A Scottish Olympic cyclist has backed plans for a new bike and skateboard park in an Aberdeenshire town.
Neah Evans, who won a silver medal with Team GB in the women’s team pursuit at Tokyo 2020, has said that she “wholeheartedly” supports the Ellon Wheel Park proposal.
The development would see a 650yd-long, all-in-one park created for skateboarders, mountain bikers, cyclists and BMX riders in the town’s Gordon Park.
The Ellon Wheel Park Committee has submitted a planning application to Aberdeenshire Council for permission to build a pump track, cycling tracks and concrete skate park, and it is currently awaiting determination.
Committee members are hoping to open the Ellon Wheel Park in 2023 to tie in with Glasgow hosting the Cycling World Championships.
Strichen’s Olympic cyclist Evans has won medals at the World Championships and Commonwealth Games.
Commenting on the plan, she said: “An active, outdoor lifestyle is widely understood to be a vital contributor to wellbeing and the basis for a fulfilled and contented childhood leading to a well-integrated future in the adult world.
“The Wheel Park project will provide facilities to meet these aims backed up by dedicated volunteers in a safe and caring environment.
“Many of its users will be content to fit the skills they learn into their normal routines and carry them forward throughout their lives, hopefully passing on their knowledge and experiences to future generations.
“Some may wish to push further and try for representative racing and further development which will be of value to their and our futures.”
Evans added: “My own experiences of racing have taken me to places I would never otherwise have been, have encouraged and developed friendships across geographic boundaries and given me an enduring pride at representing my team and country.
“In order for others to have these opportunities, facilities need to be provided and I wholeheartedly support and approve the Ellon Wheel Park and wish the committee success in bringing their dreams to fruition.”
Evans is the second sports star to voice their support for the development.
Paralympic cyclist Neil Fachie made a video last summer to express his support for the plan.
The Aberdonian broke the world record to win Paralympic gold in the men’s B 1000m time trial at Tokyo 2020.
In the video he said the wheel park was a “huge opportunity to really develop cycling in the north-east” and added that it was a “win-win for everyone concerned”.
Ellon Wheel Park Group chairman Colin Allanach said: “The vision is to create a multi-wheeled, multi-disciplined sport facility in Ellon that is accessible and inclusive to all and will inspire people to get on a bike, scooter, skateboard or skates.
“Some youths don’t do well in team and organised sports but we see how adrenaline sports like mountain biking and skateboarding can have a positive influence on people’s lives and mental wellbeing.
“Ellon needs to give youths a chance to focus on learning skills and positive behaviours and it is hoped this facility will help that.”
The group also believes that the new park will help to bring visitors to the town and support its local businesses.
Mr Allanach added: “There is a flourishing adrenaline sport tourist industry with skaters and cyclists travelling to visit different parks all over the country.
“A highly rated park can attract more visitors to Ellon and stimulate a virtuous cycle of improvement and regeneration to the town.”