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Success cannot be built with bricks and mortar alone

Y ou have to hand it to Glasgow; it's putting its money where its mouth is.

The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome  provides an opportunity for future generations to develop their potential. Picture: Jamie Simpson
The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome provides an opportunity for future generations to develop their potential. Picture: Jamie Simpson

The official opening of the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome and the first competitive event taking place at the Emirates Arena – the Glasgow Rocks basketball team had that honour – have put Glasgow's new facilities for the Commonwealth Games in the news.

At a cost of £113m, it's not been done on the cheap but is this the answer to Scotland's problems when it comes to developing new sporting talent? There is no doubt these facilities will showcase track cycling and badminton at the Games but, as I've stated before, the most important part of Scotland hosting this major event is not the 11 days of competition in two years' time. The most crucial aspect will be the legacy.

Of course, having appropriate training facilities is integral in developing a successful and productive system in any sport. But, in my opinion, it is not the top priority. There are several more important factors when it comes to producing and developing talent in a small nation. The facilities must be there in order for children to have the opportunity to develop their talent, but providing even the best buildings in the world will not guarantee success.

There are many more crucial factors when it comes to producing champions. The quality of the coaching is the most significant piece of the jigsaw. High-quality coaching, particularly at a young age, is vital to acquiring the skills and techniques essential if kids are to become world-class performers.

Together with these prerequisites, the fostering of an attitude conducive to making it to the top will have a much greater impact on whether a child will succeed or not than training in a fancy new hall.

These two attributes are non-negotiable; without them an athlete will not make it, irrespective of how much natural talent he or she may have. There is, in fact, an argument which suggests making the training environment too luxurious can actually have a detrimental effect on development. It can make athletes too comfortable. I have seen at first hand, athletes who are happy to turn up to training every day without ever really pushing themselves out of their comfort zone. Would they be quite so keen to do this if their surroundings weren't quite so gratifying?

I am, of course, not implying that these new facilities are superfluous. In particular, the velodrome – the first indoor one in Scotland – will give many more children the opportunity to experience a sport which they may never have encountered. That can only be a good thing. While these new facilities are a fantastic attribute to the City of Glasgow, all they really mean are that future Scottish sportmen and women now have the opportunity to develop their potential, but they still need to be discovered and nurtured by a system which will harness the ability they have and convert it into world-class performance.

For me, there is no doubt the quality of coaching has the greatest influence on whether a sportman or woman will flourish or not. The stories of the Williams sisters learning their trade on tennis courts in the rough area of Compton, New York, where they occasionally had to take cover to avoid being hit by stray gunfire from the gang violence that gripped the city proves that your surroundings don't necessarily make or break you. Serena and Venus have 22 grand slam singles titles between them.

The money spent on sport in Glasgow recently is welcome, but it must not end here. There are countless white elephants in cities which have hosted major sporting events. With more investment into other areas of sports development, Glasgow can avoid this unwanted scenario and use these facilities as a stepping stone for someone out there to become the next Sir Chris Hoy.

n Susan Egelstaff is Great Britain's leading women's singles badminton player

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