Former UCI President Brian Cookson is backing a campaign for a velodrome to be built in the West Midlands ©Getty Images

Former International Cycling Union (UCI) President Brian Cookson has reiterated his belief that Birmingham would benefit from building a velodrome.

Cookson is supporting a campaign for a velodrome to be constructed in the English city for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Despite the Games taking place in Birmingham, which was awarded the multi-sport event in December, track cycling competitions will take place at the Lee Valley Velopark in London.

A petition was launched last month calling for Councillor Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council and the chairman of the successful Birmingham 2022 bid team, to support the construction of a venue in the West Midlands.

It claims construction of a venue would help to develop the sport in a region with a population of 5.6 million people but no indoor velodrome.

The petition asserted that without a modern facility, fewer children will have the chance to reach the standard of high-class athletes, as well as missing out on the chance to stage "world-class cycling events" which would boost the local economy.

It also stated that velodromes can be used as a multi-sport facility by hosting basketball, netball, table tennis and boxing, as well as staging non-sporting events, such as music concerts.

The petition is currently approaching 3,500 supporters.

A petition supporting the construction of a velodrome has nearly 3,500 supporters ©
A petition supporting the construction of a velodrome has nearly 3,500 supporters ©

Cookson, speaking to City A.M, admitted that construction of a facility would be expensive, but suggested it could lead to health benefits for the local population as well as reducing the strain on the health service.

"I do think the West Midlands and Birmingham needs a velodrome," he said.

"Whether it gets it in time for the Commonwealth Games is another matter.

"What we've got in the UK now, as is the case of many other developed nations, is an epidemic of lack of fitness, obesity, health problems - all related to that lack of exercise.

"Investing in these kind of facilities is expensive.

"But it is even more expensive to be treating people all the time in the NHS for problems of lack of fitness, lack of exercise.

"When I was in school you might have one kid in the entire school who was overweight.

"I am sorry to say that now a large number of kids in schools are overweight."

One of the main sticking points over any potential velodrome would be the four-year time frame to plan and build a venue in time for the Games.

Birmingham had claimed during their bid that it already has 95 per cent of its facilities in place for the Games, with construction of a velodrome not included.

Track cycling has earned a reprieve for the Games in 2022, having been missed off the programme under Durban’s plans.

The South African city were stripped of the Games last year after failing to meet financial commitments.