Bath's role talked up as one-year countdown to Olympics begins
Officials in Bath are confident the city will play a “central role” in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics, which are today just a year away.
City MP Don Foster, who is a member of the Olympic Board, has pointed to Bath’s two universities as evidence of local involvement, and he is hoping for confirmation in September that the Olympic torch will come through the city on its round-Britain route ahead of the games.
The University of Bath - which today hosts a two-hour live broadcast by Radio 5 Live - will be home to the British Paralympic Association and the Malaysian Olympic squad for their pre-games training camps.
A string of athletes based at the university will be hoping to compete in the games and the West of England Athlete Support Scheme has provided funding to three athletes from the area to help their preparation - wildwater canoeist Alec Baker, acrogymnast Olivia Britton and judo fighter Liam Ashton Farr.
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Campus director of sport Stephen Baddeley said the university was in talks with other countries’ Olympic associations about bringing more individual teams to the city to train.
Bath Spa University is organising a series of student projects exploring the history and culture of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will involve primary schools.
Mr Foster said: “2012 has already inspired Bath. We’ve already hosted the 2008 UK School Games, have the whole British Paralympic team and many individual Olympic athletes training here and the hugely successful Olympic Art project was based in the city.
“Some 59 local schools are engaged in the Olympic Get Set educational programme, large numbers of local people are training to be volunteers at the games and hundreds more children are joining in sporting activities and learning new sports.
“And there’s more to come with Olympic-inspired music festivals, art projects and – hopefully – a place on the Olympic torch route with images of Bath going round the world to boost tourism.”
Mr Baddeley said of today’s Radio 5 presence - which runs until 9.30am: “Athletes are training at Team Bath across a wide range of sports to compete on the greatest sporting show on earth and today will be a good opportunity for them to talk about their preparations, their hopes and their aspirations.”
The Malaysian badminton team is training in Bath for world badminton championships in London next month.