The family involved in a horror cycling crash at the Commonwealth Games say that they were only ‘millimetres’ away from a ‘complete catastrophe’.
In the second qualifying heat of the men’s 15km scratch qualifying on Sunday, a high-speed, multi-rider collision saw England’s Matt Walls fly over the barrier and into the crowd, with his bike.
Walls, 24, received treatment at the Lee Valley VeloPark for more than 40 minutes before being taken away by ambulance, while the Isle of Man’s Matt Bostock and Canada’s Derek Gee also went to hospital for tests.
Olympic omnium champion Walls tried to avoid riders who had fallen in a crash lower down the banking but as he rode up, he clipped another wheel and went over the top and into the first two rows of spectators.
That is where Hugh Colvin was sitting with his two young children, aged five and seven, along with some family friends. He says that Walls made contact with his daughter.
‘It all happened so incredibly quickly at the speed the cyclists were going,’ Mr Colvin told the BBC. ‘You can see the trajectory of the bike, it came through, grazed my daughter’s shoulder, and one of the photos you can see we are obviously underneath the wheel.
‘I was facing the other way because I’d turned my head, but looking back at the photos it must have been within centimetres, millimetres, of our heads and obviously close enough to graze my daughter.’
England’s Matt Walls landed in the crowd during the final lap in the men’s 15km race on Sunday
Hugh Colvin was sitting in the first two rows of spectators with his two young children
Mr Colvin’s wife Laura was not at the velodrome but admitted that her husband and children would never have gone if they had known that a crash of such nature could occur.
‘What has been quite hard for us to get our head around is being able to see from the photographs that were taken of the incident exactly how close this came to being a complete catastrophe,’ she said.
‘And how close our two younger children came to being seriously injured or killed. And that has been the main thing we’ve had to reflect on over the last few days.
The family say that they were only ‘millimetres’ away from a ‘complete catastrophe’
‘If we had known for a moment that there was a risk that a bike with an adult male going at that speed could come into contact with my seven-year-old daughter, my family would never have been there.’
A statement released by event organisers said members of the crowd were treated on site by paramedics for minor injuries after the crash but did not need hospital treatment.
It was reported that one man received treatment for cuts to his arm and that a young girl also received attention, while another member of the crowd was said to be taken away in a wheelchair covered in blood.
Sir Chris Hoy has called for protective screens to be installed at velodromes after the incident
However, Mrs Colvin revealed that one of their friends will need surgery after a suffering a serious arm injury.
‘He suffered a laceration to the bone which the hospital have described as being like a machete injury,’ she said. ‘It’s been really difficult for him, he’s still waiting for surgery. In addition to the soft tissue and muscle injury he’s got a partially severed tendon in his arm, so it is the start of a long road to recovery for him.’
Sir Chris Hoy and Dame Laura Kenny have led the calls for protective screens to be installed at velodromes in light of the incident.
‘I hope the people in power look at this and think something really has to be done before something genuinely serious happens in the future,’ Hoy said.
‘I think it’s preventable if you put a plexiglass screen around [the spectators] like they do in ice hockey.’
‘It was horrendous and it was playing on my mind earlier,’ Kenny added. ‘We all know it’s a dangerous sport. But the crashes are getting worse because the speeds are getting faster.
‘Maybe there should be screens because Matt should not have been able to go over the top and into the crowd. That’s the third time that I’ve seen someone go over the top.’