London 2012: Hundreds train for Olympics in Wales
- 22 July 2012
- From the section Wales
Among the thousands of competitors descending on the UK for London 2012, hundreds are preparing in training camps in Wales.
Lesotho and Trinidad and Tobago athletes are among hundreds from 21 countries at 13 Welsh training camps.
More than 800 athletes and staff will be in Wales for the Olympic and Paralympics.
Most are in Cardiff, with some in Newport, Swansea and Wrexham. None are in mid and north west Wales.
For some, coming to Wales to train was an easy choice.
The Lesotho team, which looked at training in Scotland, decided on Wrexham.
The southern African country has an exchange programme with Maelor School in Penley, and the team was welcomed last week by school groups.
Runner Mosito Lehata said: "People here are very nice.
"In my country, in 20 years I'm the first athlete to qualify in the sprints for the Olympic Games.
"I have got the support from my country, now I've got support from all these people...I have everything now."
For Trinidad and Tobago sailor Andrew Lewis, training in Cardiff gives him the chance to trace his family history in Trelewis, Merthyr Tydfil.
He said: "Four generations ago we came from the town of Lewis [Trelewis] in Wales.
"I only just learned this about a week-and-a-half ago when I told my dad I was coming here for a training camp.
"After here I'm going to go up there to take some pictures...the only family member for the last four generations who has been back to Wales."
Dr Ian Hypolite, head coach of the Trinidad and Tobago track and field team, said: "The hospitality has been supreme...we have been accommodated at every turn and we really appreciate the hospitality that we've received."
Lesotho's training camp at Glyndwr University is the only camp outside south Wales,
In Wales, 21 countries are known to be training. The actual number is likely to be higher, but it is not known how many countries are represented by the International Boxing Association in Cardiff.
The Welsh government, which worked with other agencies to attract countries to Wales, claims the athletes' presence will generate millions of pounds in investment.
A spokesperson said Commonwealth countries were deliberately targeted.
The number of training camps in Wales compares favourably with Scotland, where just four countries have sent athletes.
Venues being used include: Cardiff University, Cardiff International Sports Stadium, Cardiff International Pool, Sport Wales National Centre, Newport Velodrome, Glyndwr University, Cardiff International White Water Centre, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Fitzalan High School, Wales National Pool Swansea and Swansea University.
Wales will also host the first event of London 2012 on 25 July when Team GB women play New Zealand at football at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.
The Welsh government said it and other agencies worked for more than four years to attract training camps.
A spokesperson said: "For children and local communities they give us the opportunity to learn more about other nations and provide us with a positive Games legacy for Wales.
"It is also well known that sport is a major influence on young people and having athletes of global stature training on their doorstep and living in their communities will be hugely inspirational.
"We have targeted Commonwealth countries with the intention of developing a long-term relationship with them in the hope that they will return to Wales prior to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and for other major events in the UK."
A Sport Wales spokesman said: "These Games have the potential to inspire a generation to take part in sport and having world class international athletes training in our communities can only help us and our partners to achieve this."
Plas Y Brenin, the National Mountain Centre in Capel Curig, Gwynedd, was listed as a training camp for mountain biking for London 2012, but has no involvement with the Olympics.
Chief executive Martin Doyle said it was "pretty much what we expected because we're so far away from London".
Deeside College, in Flintshire said it had had "no interest whatsoever" in its facilities.
Stephen Tudor, honorary secretary at Pwllheli Sailing Club, also an accredited training venue, said the lack of use had not been a disappointment because "we hadn't really anticipated there would be a high volume of usage".
The club expected most competitors to be based closer to Weymouth in Dorset, where sailing events are being staged.
However, Mr Tudor added: "Because the Olympics have dominated in Weymouth, we have capitalised on that.
"Because Weymouth is locked out, the number of competitors here is substantially greater than any other year we've had.
"People who might have gone to Weymouth are choosing to come here."