What's Happening in Colchester blog

TV show records Venezuelan Olympian visit

Colchester welcomed a very special visitor when the first Venezuelan athlete to compete in the Olympics spent a day in the town.

Julio César León, 86, took part in the London Olympic Games in 1948 and was the first athlete from his country to compete in the event.

The track cyclist made his return visit to the UK to remember the 1948 games, after funding was organised by the British Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela.

His trip was filmed by a Venezuelan TV crew for a programme about his memories of 1948 compared to preparations for London 2012. His visit also coincided with celebrations of the Bicentenary of Venezuelan independence.

Mr León visited the Colchester Campus of the University of Essex and was shown around the Evolve gym at the Sports Centre and the Human Performance Unit (HPU) at the Centre for Sports and Exercise Science (CSES). He was shown how modern cyclists undergo physiological testing in the sports science labs.

He said: “I wish I had been able to have all this wonderful technology when I was training.”

HPU manager Dave Parry said: “It’s a great honour to welcome such a distinguished former Olympian to the University. It was great to hear about his experiences at the Olympics and his cycling career, and to be able to show him how sports science testing is used today.”

The former Olympian also visited Hadleigh Farm Olympic Mountain Bike venue, Leisure World Colchester, SD Martial Arts Centre, Colchester Garrison and Shrub End Sports Ground, where he watched members of Colchester Rovers Cycle Club in a grass track cycling session.

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