Hertfordshire is on track to help visiting international teams prepare for the London 2012 Games. Seventeen sports venues in the county will be included in the official guide of pre-games training camps approved by the organisers behind the London 2012 Games, it was announced this morning.
The successful sites span the county from the £15 million Hertfordshire Sports Village at the University in Hatfield to the independent school Haileybury in Hertford and Stevenage Arts and Leisure centre in Stevenage. Each of the venues has been identified as an ideal training camp for a specific sport. In total 15 sports have been included, ranging from equestrian training at Oaklands College in Smallford to artistic gymnastics at the Hemel Hempstead Sports Centre and Sapphire Gymnastics in Hemel Hempstead.
Fourteen of the venues were included in a single bid from a Hertfordshire consortium which includes the university, local councils, state and independent schools as well as individual sports clubs. It comes nearly two years after the county-wide partnership "Herts is Ready For Winners" was launched to help ensure that Hertfordshire had a role to play in the run-up to the London 2012 Games.
Consortium leader and director of sport at the University of Hertfordshire Nick Brooking said today: "I am sure that our partnership approach helped win us recognition to be included in the guide. "Hertfordshire has good sports facilities and we believe that the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games was looking for evidence of positive co-operation once the technical criteria for the venues were satisfied." Mr Brooking also highlighted the contribution to the successful bid played by Herts Sports Partnership. He said: " The organisation was invaluable in providing the consortium with links to community sports and leisure providers."
John Fuller from "Herts is Ready for Winners" who is Hertfordshire manager for the London 2012 Games said: "The success of the bid is a positive reflection of the message that the "Herts is Ready for Winners" partnership has been working on to promote Hertfordshire and how it can secure positive benefits from the 2012 London Olympics for its residents, schools, businesses and cultural activity. "We now hope that National Olympic Committees (NOCs) will select our venues for their pre-games training camps so that they can enjoy what the county has to offer their teams - both as athletes and visitors."
The Hertfordshire sites are among 600 training venues from across the UK which will be published in the official pre-games training guide which will be circulated to all NOCs and National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) at the Beijing Olympics this summer. A website, which will show case the quality and variety of the venues, will also be established.
Naming the successful venues this morning the chairman of the London Organising Committee Sebastian Coe said: "We said we wanted the London Games to be for the 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"
Olympic minister Tessa Jowell added: "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"