PEOPLE inspired by Paralympian gold medal-winner Mark Colbourne have been rushing to try cycling at Newport’s velodrome.

Demand has been so great that beginner sessions at the track are booked up until the new year, the city council has revealed.

Those inspired by Team GB and ParalympicsGB track cyclists have inundated Newport council with interest in the venue where the teams trained ahead of the London games.

As a result up to 600 people have booked for cycling beginners’ sessions at the Wales National Velodrome, meaning such sessions are fully booked until the new year, while extra taster sessions have had to be added to meet demand.

Spaces on those, however, are going fast. The council is still taking inquiries and contact details for those interested.

Leisure and culture cabinet member for the council councillor Debbie Wilcox said there was no doubt the London Olympics has had a “tremendous and lasting impact.

“This legacy is being felt strongly in the Wales National Velodrome,” she added.

She said that the facility was not for the exclusive use of élite athletes.

Fellow councillor Emma Corten, of Ringland ward, tried the velodrome out for herself last Tuesday at a taster session that included eight cyclists from the Netherlands.

She said she would be going back again, and enjoyed the speed of the bikes and the fitness elements of it, although she admitted she fell over on more than one occasion.

“I went on the track, which is scary.

The track itself isn’t scary, it’s just the fact you can’t stop,” she said.

There are plenty of other Olympic and Paralympic sports available to try out in Newport.

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Gong campaign is going global with web support

SUPPORT for our Give Mark a Gong campaign has been coming from as far afield as Australia.

Everyone is getting behind the cycling star who bagged a hat-trick of medals, including Gwent’s only Olympic or Paralympic gold in the 3km individual pursuit, breaking a world record in the process, at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Online Argus reader Colin Samuel, originally from Blackwood and now living in Rockingham, Western Australia, said: “Well done Mark you have made Wales proud of you.

From all Welsh people living in Australia, good on you sport.”

Mark may already have a gold postbox in his honour, but the people of Blaenau Gwent are hoping he will receive an even greater honour as Britain’s Olympians and Paralympians are set to get their own honours list.

Mark also won two silver medals and already has the backing of Blaenau Gwent mayor Graham Bartlett, leader of Blaenau Gwent Council Hedley McCarthy, deputy leader of Tredegar Town Council Alyson Tippings and MP for Blaenau Gwent Nick Smith, as well as people from his home town.

COMMENT: In pursuit of a legacy

THERE is much talk at the moment on all different levels about whether or not there will be a lasting Olympic legacy following our fantastic summer of sport.

Politicians are trying to harness the nation’s feelgood factor, which has been so prevalent in recent weeks, to lift the nation’s mood in all other walks of life. And let’s face it, who could have predicted the sheer levels of support witnessed throughout both the Olympics and Paralympics.

Meanwhile sports organisations are no doubt hoping our successes will ensure generous funding for years to come.

Let’s hope so.

In many ways it is simply too early to tell what the legacy will be. But here in Newport we are beginning to see an early indication that our Olympic and Paralympic successesmay be inspiring some newsports stars of the future.

Cycling has to go down as one of the success stories of the 2012 Games. And Newport’s Velodrome, which played its part in those successes, is already reporting a surge in demand for places on its taster sessions and beginner courses.

Of course, some of those who try itmay never want to climb aboard a bike again. But even if just a fewof the hundreds booked on to courses between nowand early next year, do then want to take up the sport seriously we have the beginnings of some sort of sporting legacy.

And what could be better than that?