Great Yarmouth aims to be Olympics training base
Olympic fever could start building in Great Yarmouth a month ahead of the games with the arrival of top-class beach volleyball teams.
The town already hosts an event in the national beach volleyball tour and the borough council is aiming to woo Olympic teams to establish training bases on the beach next June.
With the games less than a year away, council officials have begun sending out information packs to potential Olympic beach volleyball qualifiers inviting them to use the facilities in the resort.
Marie Hartley, the council's culture, leisure and sport manager, said: 'We have a first-class beach and we have proved our credentials by hosting the national beach volleyball tour now in its sixth year.
'This year's event saw a top American player taking part and it would be fantastic to have elite Olympic competitors practising on our beach.
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'One of the reasons we want to see it happen is that it will provide local people with a link to London 2012 before the games get under way.'
She said the qualification schedule for beach volleyball was really tight and some teams would not know whether they had a place in the games until about three weeks before the Olympics.
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'We have done some analysis on the past two Olympics to see which teams are the likely qualifiers,' she said.
'By sending out invitation letters now, encouraging teams to look at Yarmouth and provisionally book their place, we can ensure that our facilities are in top condition for the athletes' arrival in just under a year. Players from warmer countries might not be used to British weather conditions and may welcome the opportunity to play in the UK for a few weeks prior to the Olympics.'
A dozen information packs introducing the town and the facilities available are being sent to potential teams from Argentina, Austria, China, Cuba, Germany, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the USA.
Yarmouth applied to appear in the pre-games training manual as long ago as January 2007 and was awarded official London 2012 training camp status in March 2008.
Hoteliers in Yarmouth are excited at the prospect of having an Olympic team come to stay - even though it may mean handing their kitchen over to a specialist team of nutritional experts.
Jason Delf, owner of the Burlington Palm Hotel said: 'Fortunately we have got two kitchens so we would be able to offer sleeping and kitchen accommodation to potential teams without adversely affecting other holidaymakers' plans.'
Edwina Wright, chief executive of Great Yarmouth Sport and Leisure Trust which manages the Marina centre said: 'The centre is ideally located next to Central Beach where the volleyball courts would be. We also have facilities for fitness, strength and cardio training, as well as a sports hall and small meetings rooms to use for training seminars.'