Sheffield’s own Steel City Olympics

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
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THE Olympics are shaping up to be the Steel City games.

With just 100 days to go, it has been revealed than one in seven athletes from the Great Britain team will have trained in Sheffield and 15 teams are holding their training camps in the city.

The camps will bring an estimated £550,000 into the city’s economy.

Hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life are also gearing up to play a vital role in the games, including security, stewarding, transport and carrying the athletes’ coveted medals.

The latest squads to sign up for training camps in Sheffield are six rhythmic gymnastics teams, including gold medal favourites Russia.

Other camps coming to Sheffield are Canadian wheelchair basketball and synchronised swimming, as well as Brazilian judo, US diving, and the Serbian Olympic team.

Gary Clifton, major sports events and Programme 2012 manager at Sheffield Council, said £19 million has been made over the past three years through pre-Olympic activities.

“It’s going to be an exciting summer,” he said.

“The games on UK soil is not something any of us will experience in our lifetimes again. By the time the Olympics comes round, around one in seven GB athletes will have lived or trained in Sheffield.

“Sheffield will have a strong link to the Team GB athletes - and hopefully they’ll be bringing winning medals with them when they come back to the city.”

Sheffield hosts four GB Olympic sports - boxing, table tennis, volleyball and diving - as well as individual athletes such as heptathlete Jessica Ennis. Around 200 British athletes and staff will be training in the city.

Local volunteers will also be heading to London to be at the epicentre of the Olympics, including 30-year-old Gary Longden, from Killamarsh, who’s set to be a medal and flower bearer.

Gary said he was ‘really excited’ about his important role, adding: “I was chuffed to bits when they offered it to me, I couldn’t believe it.”

Around 200 students from Sheffield Hallam University are also working in Press operations across all the venues after completing a Sports Development module.

Events are also planned for when the Olympic torch travels through South Yorkshire, including an evening celebration in Barker’s Pool.

Mr Clifton said the £19 million was made through over 60 international events that have already taken place in Sheffield.

“Then, from an economic point of view, if you look at the training camps, that’s probably about £500,000,” he said.

“They’re paying for the use of the venues, hotels, and paying their way, so to speak.”

Last week six rhythmic gymnastics teams - Russia, Japan, Korea, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan - committed to training in the city.

Mr Clifton said activities have been organised through a partnership with Sheffield International Venues and both of the city’s universities, adding: “It’s been a long process but very worthwhile.

“From the partnerships we’ve developed over the past four years, in October, November and December we need to be sat around the table trying to use sport for the greater good. There’s definitely a desire to carry on this work.”