Poolies inspired to hit the road

Jim Facchini
Jim Facchini

INSPIRED Hartlepudlians have been dusting off their bicycles and hitting the road after being gripped by Olympic fever.

That is the view of Jim Facchini, who owns Facchini’s Cycles, in the town’s Murray Street.

While he hasn’t seen a dramatic increase in people buying new bikes, he said his workshop is “buzzing” with people wanting repairs to their bikes after being inspired by the action from the velodrome at London 2012.

It comes as sports development officers at Hartlepool Borough Council say it is almost impossible for people not to have been inspired by the Olympics to take up sport.

Mr Facchini, 62, said: “We have had a lot of people bringing their old bikes in for repair because they want to get out on the road and cycle.

“It has really increased in the last couple of weeks and I think it can be put down to the Olympics.

“This time of year is usually busy for us anyway with people taking advantage of the summer holidays and the weather but this year our workshop has been buzzing.”

Mr Facchini was speaking after cyclist Sir Chris Hoy won a record-breaking sixth gold medal after his success in the final of the kierin event adding to the sprint gold he secured earlier in the week.

In total, the British cycling team has won seven gold medals at London 2012.

Mr Facchini, a married dad-of-two, has been glued to the Olympic action on the television.

He added: “The Olympics has been fantastic and the results have been unbelievable.”

Meanwhile, officers at Hartlepool Council say they work closely with a number of sports clubs to encourage people to take up sport, whether it be rugby, netball, hockey or badminton.

The council’s popular Begin 2 programme, which gives people an insight into various sports over a six to 10 week programme, is also set to relaunch in September.

A number of programmes have already been run including cricket and sailing and upcoming programmes, the details of which are still being finalised, are likely to include hockey, netball, badminton and cycling.

Organisers say it is a great way of getting people interested in sport before referring them to established sport clubs.

Town swimmer Jemma Lowe and boxer Savannah Marshall have both represented Team GB this summer and officers say they have also helped inspire people.

Gemma Ptak, senior sports and physical activities co-ordinator at the council, said: “There is still a lot of work to be done but if we can’t build a legacy to inspire people after what has been a very successful Games then that would be very disappointing.

“It has been such a success that is hard to see how people can’t have been inspired and we certainly have the facilities and structures in Hartlepool in order to that.

“We have the most fantastic sports clubs in this town and it is proven that even for a small town we can produce Olympians.

“For Jemma Lowe and Savannah Marshall to represent Team GB is a phenomenal achievement.

“Just to be selected is an honour in itself and it shows other people they can reach that level.”

For more information about the Begin 2 programme call (01429) 284050.