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LAY DOWN KNIVES, GET ON YOUR BIKES.. OLYMPICS Beijing 2008 Use GB success to put our kids on right track.

Byline: By MIKE WALTERS

BRITAIN'S Olympic cycling mastermind David Brailsford hopes his squad's legacy will see youths ditching their weapons and getting in the saddle.

Just 24 hours after his team scooped seven out of 10 cycling track golds, Brailsford added his name to the Mirror's Stop Knives, Save Lives campaign.

Stars such as Chris Hoy, the first Briton in 100 years to win three gold medals at one Olympics, and double gold ace Bradley Wiggins, have made the nation wake up to pedal power.

And Brailsford believes their success could help our society.

He said: "With better facilities, maybe our kids would put down their guns and knives, get on their bikes for a while - and not go back to their weapons."

Britain's Olympic success has sparked a feelgood factor after the pain of the credit crunch and a shocking toll of knife crime.

Brailsford, 44, has already outlined his concerns to former PM Tony Blair, who saw Hoy pull off his hat-trick on Tuesday. He said: "We need a lot more facilities. Even for our elite like BMX rider Shanaze Reade there wasn't a BMX track in the UK with a big ramp like the one in Beijing.

"I had to get the council to lend us land across the road from the velodrome in Manchester, a building firm to donate a mound of earth and a scaffolding company to build the ramp. It probably cost pounds 30,000 and it's a brilliant facility.

"If the local kids could get a bit more of that, maybe they wouldn't go for guns and knives."

BMX ace Reade could win gold today after she overcame an early fall yesterday to make the semifinals. Hoy said he would "put his mortgage" on Reade picking up a medal.

Brailsford also wants to see cycling in the school curriculum.

He said: "Cycling is not that expensive to take up and is a pretty straightforward way to burn off calories and fight obesity.

"If swimming is on the school curriculum, why not cycling?" Last night Britain's triumphant pedal squad let their hair down with "a few beers" in Beijing.

Bradley Wiggins, medals round his neck, rolled over the bonnet of a taxi for a lark, made the peace sign with his fingers and posed for pictures. A witness said: "He was very funny."

If swimming is in the school curriculum, then what about cycling?

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CHAIN REACTION Team GB cycling chief David Brailsford, left, BMX ace Shanaze Reade and Chris Hoy
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 21, 2008
Words:418
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