Laura Kenny calls for bigger barriers on Velodrome after Matt Walls crash

Dame Laura Kenny has called for the installation of larger barriers or screens at velodromes after England’s Matt Walls went over the railings and into the crowd at the Lee Valley VeloPark in a horrific crash on Sunday.

Walls somehow avoided serious injury in the crash and was discharged from hospital that evening with little more than bumps and bruises, but the severity of the incident – and the difficulty of removing him safely from his landing pad – saw the remainder of the morning session cut short.

Two spectators, including a young girl, were treated for injuries at the velodrome, while two other riders – Isle of Man’s Matt Bostock and Canada’s Derek Gee – were hospitalized after several riders crashed during qualifying for the Scratch race of the men had fallen.

Kenny, who saw sprinter Joe Truman fall unconscious in an accident on Saturday, fears the sport is becoming more dangerous and said action must be taken.

“I think the falls are getting worse and that’s because the speeds are getting faster, the positions (on the bike) are getting more extreme,” said the five-time Olympic champion. “Some of the chasing positions that people get into, you see people smashing into people’s backs.

“At some point the UCI will have to limit these positions. Maybe there should be screens because Matt shouldn’t be able to go over the top and into the crowd, that’s bloody dangerous.

“It’s now the third time I’ve been in a velodrome and seen someone exaggerate…

Laura Kenny said the crash was on her mind before starting the women’s scratch race (John Walton/PA)

(PA wire)

“(Matt) was laughing and cracking jokes with the paramedics which is brilliant to hear but if he had (not walked over) he would have done less damage and certainly done less harm to the little girl.”

The crash occurred when several riders collided in front of Walls as they entered a corner. The 24-year-old Omnium Olympic champion tried to avoid the battered pair of New Zealand’s George Jackson and Australia’s Josh Duffy but had too much speed and was forced into a banked position.

Witnesses said the front row spectators were unseen due to the slope of the embankment when Walls sped towards them. A man required treatment for cuts to his arm and a young girl also received medical attention for minor injuries.

Walls ended up in an under-occupied seating area – possibly avoiding more serious consequences.

Gee also surfed the top of the barrier but avoided following Walls over it. Gee’s teammate Mathias Guillemette was disqualified from the race for causing the first crash.

A statement from Team England said: “Following medical treatment at hospital, Matt Walls was discharged with stitches to his forehead, scrapes and bruises but thankfully with no major injuries.

“We send our best wishes to all other drivers and spectators involved in the accident and thank the medical teams for their expert care.”

The Isle of Man team said Bostock had had a CT scan from which the initial prognosis was positive.

Kenny attributed her low 13th place in the women’s points race to poor form but said the incident was on her mind as she arrived at the velodrome for the afternoon session.

“I texted Jason and said, ‘I’m not sure I want to do this,'” she said. “It puts everything into perspective when something like this happens. I’m just glad he was conscious straight away because Joe (Truman’s) accident yesterday was enough to get you thinking.

England’s Joe Truman was knocked unconscious in a crash on Saturday (John Walton/PA)

(PA wire)

“We all know it’s a dangerous sport. When you don’t feel physically capable of putting yourself at the top, you can’t help but think, ‘Why am I doing this?’

In a statement, a Birmingham 2022 spokesman said: “Following a fall at the morning session of track and para-track cycling at Lee Valley VeloPark, three cyclists and two spectators were treated by the on-site medical team.

“The three cyclists were taken to the hospital. The two viewers did not require hospital treatment…

“We would like to extend our best wishes to the cyclists and spectators involved in this incident and thank the medical team for their prompt action.” Laura Kenny calls for bigger barriers on Velodrome after Matt Walls crash

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