Birmingham & Black Country

London 2012: Jamaican Olympic squad's hope for lasting memory

Image caption Hundreds of invited spectators attended the training session at the University of Birmingham

The man behind the Jamaican Olympic track and field team said he wanted people in Birmingham to remember their visit in years to come.

Jamaican Don Quarrie was a star in the 1970s, holding the world 100m and 200m records at the same time.

Now, as technical athletics manager, he has helped the likes of the current fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, at the team's training camp at the University of Birmingham.

"Two, three, four, maybe 10 years from now, we wanted it to be [a topic] around tea that the Jamaicans were here and they were wonderful," he said.

Speaking about choosing Birmingham as their training home, he added: "We knew we had to make a decision on a place... capable of housing our athletes in a nice, relaxed [manner] and we're not in any way disappointed.

"At night it's calm, but most of all everywhere you go volunteers [are] making sure everything is OK."

'Awesome support'

On Tuesday, the Jamaican squad faced about 150 media representatives for the first time in Birmingham before London 2012.

Image caption Student Tamara Armoush said the athletes had been "really friendly"

Hundreds of invited spectators gathered to watch the athletes training in the midday sunshine at the University of Birmingham.

Students, children and people from community groups and sports clubs relaxed on the grass while some athletes were sprinting and others limbering up.

About 40 students sporting green T-shirts acted as volunteers to help the event run smoothly. The atmosphere was lively as the crowd watched on, with some spectators banging drums.

Bolt was among those absent, but one volunteer, Tamara Armoush, 20, said she had met the 100m world record holder and had been showing other Jamaican names to the track at the Edgbaston campus.

The mathematics student said: "He's [Bolt's] been here from the beginning... he was really nice.

"It's good to get a feel of their preparation for the Olympics...they're really friendly and chatty to talk to."

Men's team captain Michael Frater had plenty to say at the press conference following Tuesday's session, which at times took place with Caribbean music on loudspeakers.

'Amazing' atmosphere

Frater said: "It's almost like we're on home turf. The support we have got has been awesome.

"It's been very comfortable. We have no complaints. The accommodation [at the university] has been awesome.

"A few of us went to the Bullring and we went to the movies and we went out and enjoyed the sights."

Image caption Halesowen coach Rowan Warmington-Christmas said the "vibe" was good

Dominique Blake, who will be competing in the women's 4x400m relay, said this was her first visit to the UK.

She said: "[The university] is top notch, five star, the volunteer staff, all the important members behind the scenes have put everything together for us."

Rowan Warmington-Christmas, 41, a coach from Halesowen athletics club, who had come to watch, said: "The atmosphere is amazing and the vibe is good which is definitely a party atmosphere Jamaica-style, and the weather is here which is typically Jamaica."

Asked about his approach at the Olympics, men's team captain Michael Frater added: "It's about being relaxed, going out there and having fun.

"So go out there, do what you've been doing, execute it and have fun with it."

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