The lasting legacy of the Commonwealth Games has a permanent fixture in Aberdeenshire with the unveiling of a commemorative cycle stand by wrestling champion Viorel Etko. Launched as part of the Legacy 2014 Active Travel programme, all Team Scotland Glasgow 2014 medallists nominated public places where stands in their medal colour would be installed.
Maureen Watt, Minister for Public Health, joined Etko at Meldrum School on Friday 13th March 2015, where pupils including his son Leon, 10, were on hand to help him unveil his bronze stand, awarded in honour of his success in the men’s Freestyle Wrestling at Glasgow 2014.
Etko said: “It was an honour to receive my cycle stand and nominate a location for it. I decided to donate it to my local school to show my gratitude to the community for their support throughout the Games and to give kids in my area more opportunity to cycle by providing additional parking spaces for bikes. My wife and I run a sports club and are always encouraging kids to lead an active lifestyle from an early age. Cycling to and from school is a great way to introduce them to daily exercise.”
37-year-old Etko was the first wrestler to win a medal for Scotland in 20 years. His life in Oldmeldrum is a far cry from his beginnings in the tiny town of Gorodiste in Moldova, where his parents still live. Arriving in the UK 16 years ago as an asylum seeker, Etko has since settled in Aberdeenshire with wife and former Scotland gymnast Laura Davies, where they run sports club Laura’s Gym, teaching wrestling and gymnastics to over 800 children a week.
The Commemorative Cycle Stands are being installed by Cycling Scotland along with Sustrans Scotland and Transport Scotland. They are part of the new Legacy 2014 Active Travel Programme which aims to encourage people of all ages to take the first steps towards an active, healthier lifestyle.
Maureen Watt, Minister for Public Health, said:
Maureen Watt, Minister for Public Health, said: “It was great to meet Vio today. He is a truly inspiring character, and I hope the cycle stand will help to encourage others to follow in his footsteps and achieve great things, whether that’s in the field of sport or elsewhere. The cycle stands are also a practical way to encourage cycling and to build on the growing popularity of the sport, particularly in light of the fantastic cycling we saw in Glasgow last summer.”
Keith Irving, Cycling Scotland Chief Executive said: “People remember the gold postboxes from the London Olympics and these gold, silver and bronze commemorative cycle stands are a lasting reminder of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. They help add to the necessary cycling facilities for the growing number of people enjoying riding a bike to leisure centres, schools, workplaces and shops. ‘’
John Lauder, National Director of Sustrans Scotland, said:
“The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow was such an overriding success story that we want to ensure that it’s legacy lives on for many years to come. The installation of these legacy cycle stands is a perfect way to ensure that this is the case. I am confident that they will be well used and am hopeful that they will actually encourage those who do not currently cycle to give it a go. They will serve as a constant reminder of Scotland’s success and ensure that the Games have a positive and lasting effect on our health, the environment and the economy both now and into the future.”