Throwing down an Olympic challenge

As top athletes put the finishing touches to years of training for this summer’s Beijing Olympics, thoughts are already turning to London 2012. This major event will see international sports stars and world record holders head to the UK – and the University of Wolverhampton intends to play an important role in the run up to this prestigious event.
The University’s Walsall Sports Centre has secured a coveted position as an official training base in the Guide for National Olympic Committees (NOCs). This national portfolio of accredited sports facilities will be officially launched in Beijing this August. The Guide will be used by countries organising their training programmes in the years leading up to the 2012 London Olympics, and the University’s Gorway Road venue is featured for the sports of Basketball, Judo and Taekwondo.
Leading athletes from around the world will have the opportunity to visit the University and the region to use the excellent facilities on offer. University of Wolverhampton Director of Sport, Mike Chamberlain, says that this is extremely positive news for the University and the prestige of the Sports Centre, which is already one of the few national judo centres of excellence in the UK and plays host to international sporting competitions.

A great honour

“There are all sorts of nations and teams we could attract to the region and it is a great honour for us to welcome sporting stars,” he explains. “This is an opportunity to host elite athletes at the University, and we have the expertise to help them further. It is an opportunity for our sports scientists to work with top athletes in our state-of-the art sports labs.
“Teams from South America or Asia will be taking part in European tours in the years running up to the Games, and we would have an opportunity to host them for a training camp for a week. We can build on the existing international links of the University and develop our relationships."
Teams can use the facilities as holding camps, to allow athletes from different continents to acclimatise just prior to the Games, or training camps in the years running up to the event. Walsall Sports Centre was part-funded by a £2 million Lottery Grant which helped create a permanent matted judo area. It also has outstanding basketball facilities and is used as a sports and fitness venue for the wider community.
In addition, the sports centre is within the University campus, so has additional benefits: “The University has a lot to offer – the student residences at Walsall are new and on site and it is a nice, self-contained campus which lends itself to squads and teams living there,” Mike adds.
The London 2012 Olympics promises to be an exciting time in the UK, and the University of Wolverhampton is poised to take an active role.