Olympic squads honing their talent in Sheffield

Leon Taylor, Gary Clifton, Lorenzo Clark and John Timms at Ponds Forge
Leon Taylor, Gary Clifton, Lorenzo Clark and John Timms at Ponds Forge
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THERE may be seven months to go before the London 2012 Olympics but Sheffield is already reaping the benefits.

International training camps have been taking place at venues such as the English Institute of Sport and more sessions are booked into the New Year.

It is estimated as many as one in seven athletes at the Games will have been training in Sheffield beforehand.

Gary Clifton, Sheffield Council’s major events and programme 2012 manager, said: “There can’t be many other places around the UK which will be hosting as many athletes as Sheffield.”

Work has been ongoing for more than two years to sign up international teams to use Sheffield’s facilities for training sessions.

Mr Clifton added that four Great Britain teams are also based in Sheffield for training – boxing, volleyball, table tennis and diving.

“Excluding the GB guys there will be up to 200 people coming to Sheffield – two thirds of whom will be athletes, which is really good for the city’s reputation and helps the local economy,” Mr Clifton said.

He told The Star that Sheffield has hosted the US wrestling team ‘only last week’.

Mr Clifton added: “We have the US diving team in February and the Brazil judo squad will be in Sheffield in July.

“With Leeds, we will also be hosting some Serbian teams and we are in discussions with US boxing, Canadian wrestling and Canadian synchronised swimming.

“We also have two Paralympic teams confirmed – the Canadian wheelchair basketball and boccia squads.”

Mr Clifton said Sheffield aims to host ‘top quality teams’ and that it is looking to attract further squads in the coming months.

“We are not doing badly so far – the Brazilian judo team is in the top three in the world and the United States’ diving and wrestling squads are among the global top five for each of those sports,” Mr Clifton added.