11 Suffolk sites to lure 2012 teams

VIDEO Ipswich Town's training ground is amongst 11 Suffolk venues which will be made available to visiting nations as training facilities for the London 2012 Olympics, it was revealed today.

IPSWICH Town's training ground is amongst 11 Suffolk venues which will be made available to visiting nations as training facilities for the London 2012 Olympics, it was revealed today.

A record number of sporting facilities across every part of the UK feature in the London Organising Committee Pre-Games Training Camp Guide.

This assessment process has amounted to an audit of high quality facilities throughout the UK and has shown that there are many excellent sporting facilities available throughout the UK.

Eleven sporting venues in Suffolk have made the grade, including the Ipswich Gymnastics Centre where the list for the Eastern Region was announced by a delegation of representatives from London 2012 on Monday 3rd March.

Those from the county included in the guide are Alton Water Sports Centre in Stutton, Bentwaters Park near Woodbridge, Culford School and West Suffolk Athletics Arena in Bury St Edmunds, Thetford Forest, Felixstowe Lawn Tennis Club, Ipswich Gymnastics Centre, Ipswich Town Football Club, Northgate Sports Centre in Ipswich, Otley College and Waveney Gymnastics Centre in Lowestoft. Between them they hope to attract international teams looking for training facilities in canoeing, road cycling, archery, tennis, mountain biking, rhythm and artistic gymnastics, football, athletics, fencing and equestrianism.

Cllr Judy Terry, who is responsible for culture and leisure at Ipswich Borough Council, said: “This is a huge boost for Ipswich. The borough council and its Team Ipswich partners have been working very hard for many months to try to ensure the town and surrounding area take advantage of the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012.

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“This latest announcement, approving the short-listed facilities of Northgate Sports Centre, the Ipswich Gymnastics Centre, Ipswich Town FC, Otley College, Bentwaters and Alton Water is very welcome and proves that we have some first rate venues. These and many more are highlighted in the official Team Ipswich brochure, which we will be sending around the world in order to attract training teams. This will be published later this month.”

Councillor Stephen Castle, chairman of Nations and Regions East was accompanied by World Champion swimmer Karen Pickering, Charles Allen, Chairman of London's Nations and Regions Group and Chris Perks, Regional Director of Sport England East, on his visit to the Gymnastics facility where he congratulated Head Coach, Andy Woods on making the grade.

Councillor Steve Castle said: “Sixty-five venues from across the East of England's six counties have made it in the Guide for pre-Games Training Camps. They were assessed according to strict sporting criteria.

“A number of the region's universities have been successful in demonstrating the strength of their sporting provision, along with schools and community-based facilities that together can support 25 Olympic sports.”

Chris Perks, regional director of Sport England East commented: “The guide highlights the number of superb facilities available to communities in Suffolk and throughout the Eastern region. It is heartening to see the investment in sport made by Sport England through the National Lottery paying off. Hosting pre games camps will give us the chance to showcase these and other superb facilities to teams from across the globe.”

Andy Woods from Ipswich Gymnastics Centre is delighted with the announcement: “This is fantastic news for the gymnastics centre and the surrounding area, and a result we have been working towards for some time.

“We have experience of hosting international competitions over recent years and are excited at the prospect of possibly welcoming an Olympic team to Ipswich. We hope youngsters will be able to watch some of the training, inspiring them to even greater heights,” he said. “The local economy is also set to benefit from a demand for accommodation and local services. Let's now hope a team chooses us.”

Cambridge, Essex, Hertfordshire, Anglia Ruskin and Bedfordshire Universities are all included, offering world-class facilities and, in many cases, sports science and sports medicine support. Top professional clubs in the East make an appearance, with Norwich City and Ipswich Town offering preparation facilities for 2012's football teams, while archery is being catered for at Essex County Cricket Club.

A number of venues funded by the National Lottery through Sport England are also listed including the Ipswich Gymnastics Centre and the award-winning Whitlingham Outdoor Education Centre in Norwich which will offer training areas for canoeing and triathlon.

More than 600 facilities will appear in the Guide, to be published at the Beijing Games. It contains high quality elite sporting facilities right across the UK which will give teams and individual athletes a great selection of venues from which they can choose to prepare for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Guide will be circulated to all National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and National Paralympic Committees (NPCs). These organisations will then decide where they base themselves or where to send individual athletes to prepare and acclimatise for London 2012.

Extensive details of the facilities will appear on a dedicated website showcasing the quality and variety of options throughout the UK which will help NOCs / NPCs decide where to train. The national tourism agency, Visit Britain, is developing this new website with LOCOG and will bring its experience of marketing destinations and tourism products to international audiences.

The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is also able to offer a financial award of up to £25,000 to NOCs/NPCs to help encourage teams to base themselves in the UK. LOCOG has an allocation from its privately raised budget for this process and believes this will be an incentive for NOCs / NPCs to base themselves in the UK.

Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee, commented: “We said that we wanted the London Games to be for athletes, and the facilities listed in this Guide will really help overseas athletes prepare well. It also provides a great opportunity for towns throughout the UK to get involved in our plans. The process we have been through shows a great spread of high quality facilities throughout the UK that can be used by elite level athletes. The new website will continue to be an asset to keep an up-to-date log of the elite facilities we have across the UK.”

Tessa Jowell, Olympics Minister, said: “The strength and diversity of our sporting infrastructure is demonstrated by so many high quality facilities having met the strict criteria to be included in this Guide. This is a real opportunity for communities across the UK to capitalise on the benefits that hosting 2012 offers. There are no guarantees of success just by making it into the Guide. There will be fierce competition to host foreign teams and individuals, and now it is for every nation and region, every venue, to sell itself internationally.”

Facilities in the Guide range from well known major sporting hubs, universities and independent schools, community facilities, and sport specific clubs. A full list of the facilities that appear in the Guide is published by nation and region breakdown in the “Note to Editors”. They were assessed against strict technical criteria such as the ability to offer high quality sports training facilities, experience of hosting elite teams, comfortable but affordable accommodation, the ability to offer appropriate catering, good transport links, access to a good hospital, and good sports science facilities.

Facilities that appear in the Guide will now market their facilities directly to NOCs and NPCs. There will be workshops organised to give guidance on this.

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