London 2012 Chair Unveils Training Grants Plan for Athletes at African Olympic Meeting in Malawi
In a key note speech to the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA), Coe said grants of up to £26,000 ($US 50,000) would be made available to Africa’s national Olympic committees (NOCs) and national Paralympic committees (NPCs) for use of UK facilities ahead of the Games in 2012.
Coe said the initiative - the first of its kind by an Olympic Games host city organising committee - would help to honour commitments made in the London Bid to place the welfare of athletes at the centre of the London 2012 Games.
“We know that many athletes will not have experienced life in the UK before and the training camps initiative will help to give them the chance to acclimatise and to perform at their best,” Coe told the annual meeting of African Olympic leaders, officials and national Olympic committees held in Malawi.
Under the London 2012 grants plan, national Olympic committees in Africa and other continental regions will be eligible to apply for grants to subsidise the use of UK facilities and services approved and designated by London 2012 Games organisers.
“We want the training grants to help teams and athletes from small nations who would not otherwise have the financial resources to be able to prepare their athletes for the 2012 Games,” Coe said.
Speaking in Africa for the first time since London 2012’s Bid win last year, Coe outlined progress in planning for the London Games to the national Olympic committees, responsible for preparing athletes to represent their countries and nations at the Olympic Games.
This included details of London 2012’s revised Olympic Park Masterplan based around repositioning of some venues in order to achieve important benefits of athletes, including additional training facilities close to the Olympic Village.
The London 2012 Chairman said there was increasing support for the Olympic and Paralympic Games to be staged in Africa and was hopeful that London’s Games model, based around extensive use of existing venues – over 60 per cent of Games venues and locations already exist – combined with temporary venues, infrastructure and overlay, would help to bring hopes for an Olympic Games in Africa a step closer.
“This is an approach that will help to herald a new era in venue design and use, one that will help to render the construction of large scale, costly permanent and underused stadia a thing of the past and make it possible to stage major events in a greater number of potential host cities and countries.”
Coe also highlighted the power of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to inspire athletes and young people.
“The unique Olympic association between culture, education, environment and sport has the power to change lives on and off the sporting field and build bridges of understanding, partnership and friendship between cities, countries and cultures,” Coe told delegates.
Delegates also heard praise for London 2012 support from leading African athletes including Ethiopian and Olympic long distance running champion, Haile Gebreselassie – and from the inspirational leader Nelson Mandela.
“Nelson Mandela’s support for London 2012 was a constant source of inspiration to every one associated with the London Bid,” Coe said.