The curtain came down last night on the first major ParalympicsGB 2012 preparation camp at the University of Bath’s Sports Training Village – an event which proved to be a resounding success.
160 athletes from 14 sports experienced the facilities and services on offer at Team Bath as they trained across a five-day period which included the two-years to go marker to London 2012 on Sunday. A further two camps are planned in August 2011 and 2012.
London 2012 Paralympic Games director and nine-times Paralympic swimming gold medallist Chris Holmes visited the camp and is confident that the partnership between ParalympicsGB and the University will go a long way to helping achieve results in 2012.
He said: “It’s a world class centre for sport. Hosting the ParalympicsGB camp here is an excellent opportunity to provide a multi-sports arena all under one roof, replicating what the 2012 Games will be like.”
Stephen Baddeley, Director of Sport at the University, said he hoped that the team at Bath would help Britain’s established and potential Paralympians fulfil their mission statement of being the “best-prepared” team at the home Games of 2012. He added: “We are extremely delighted and proud of our increasing partnership with the ParalympicsGB team.”
“Bath is one of the most vibrant and dynamic multi sport venues in the country catering for a wide range of high performance athletes which will provide excellent conditions to support the preparation of the Paralympic athletes ahead of London 2012.”
The University of Bath was transformed for the five days of the camp. A large marquee was erected on the Sports Café balcony to recreate the Games Village dining room and Games-style, eye-catching branding was established throughout the Sports Training Village, the approach roads and car-parks, alongside sponsor and commercial stands.
ParalympicsGB Performance Director Penny Briscoe and her team were determined to recreate the kind of conditions that athletes will face in London so that they are already accustomed to the atmosphere of a big, multi-sport event and can, therefore, focus on their sports performance.
Paralympic rowing champion Helene Raynsford said: “It’s a great opportunity to take something back to our sport by experiencing and learning from all the other Paralympic sports that are here training in Bath.”
Wheelchair rugby’s Jason Roberts who was also training at Bath for the World Championships in Vancouver this September said: “The facilities here are fantastic, it provides everything we need. Our accommodation is on campus which makes transport a lot easier too.”
Additionally athletes were encouraged to get used to experiencing the increased amounts of media attention the Games will provide with BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and other local media outlets covering the London 2012 two-year marker from Bath.
University of Bath graduate Ben Rushgrove has become rather accustomed to the media after sprinting to a silver medal at the Beijing Paralympic Games and he said: “It is a very important camp in preparation for the run up to London 2012 and the media interest will help to raise the profile of the Paralympics in Great Britain.”
Sam Scott who plays Sitting Volleyball added: “The camp has provided seminars on nutrition and psychology as well as media training”.
ParalympicsGB has a tradition of outstanding performance across previous Games, with Great Britain standing second in the overall medals table for the last three consecutive Games. The team came home from Beijing with an impressive tally of 102 medals, 42 of which were gold.
Phil Lane, Chief Executive of the British Paralympic Association said: “We know that other nations would love to topple us on our home patch so the preparation camps will play a vital role in our success.” He adds, “We are confident that with Bath as a partner we can raise the bar in everything we do.”
The University of Bath has one of the leading university sports departments in the UK. Under its Team Bath brand, its success is based on the expertise and dedication of staff, and its excellent facilities, used by the community and Olympic medal winners alike.