J'can invasion! - Birmingham training base gears up for Olympians

J'can invasion! - Birmingham training base gears up for Olympians

JAAA boss satisfied with training camp preparation

BY PAUL A REID Observer Writer

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

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JAMAICA Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) president Dr Warren Blake says he is pleased with the preparation of the Birmingham training base for the Jamaican team ahead of the Olympic Games this summer in London.

Blake said preparations were well ahead of schedule and things were in place to welcome the Jamaican team for the two-week pre-Olympics camp set to get underway some time in mid-July.

In an interview with the Observer yesterday, Dr Blake said a three-man delegation, including treasurer Ludlow Watts and former technical leader Donald Quarrie, had toured the facilities at the University of Birmingham earlier this month and was pleased with what was seen.

Blake described the facilities as "world-class" and said it would help the athletes get ready for the Olympics which gets underway on July 27 with the Opening Ceremony.

A brand new running track is to be laid by the time the Jamaican team gets to Birmingham, Blake added.

The JAAA, under its late president Howard Aris, had struck a deal with the Birmingham City Council in February 2010 which will see the team using the university track and weight room, as well as the Alexander Stadium in the Perry Barr area of that city.

Last year, an article published in English newspaper The Telegraph reported that the organisers were taking everything into consideration, including the ordering of extra-long beds for athletes such as Usain Bolt who is well over six feet.

Unlike the situation in Daegu, South Korea, at the IAAF World Championships last year when a number of athletes had issues with the food, Blake said there would be no such issues this time in England.

"Grace Foods, one of our sponsors, will send a Jamaican chef as well as food for the team, so we will not have any problems where that is concerned," he said.

The Telegraph story also reported that with over 60,000 persons with Jamaican heritage living in Birmingham, providing food they were accustomed to would not be a problem.

Zena Woolridge, director of sport at the University of Birmingham, was quoted as saying in July last year that "It's critical that athletes get the right fuel. We have a great catering team that will be able to provide the precise type and quality of food they need, and they will want Jamaican food".

"At the Beijing Olympics they really struggled to get the food they are used to eating, which is why you saw lots of stories about them visiting McDonald's.

"Having 60,000 Jamaican people in Birmingham, I think we know a thing or two about producing Jamaican food," he said.

Meanwhile, Blake said they had not nailed down the exact dates for the camp as yet, but given the start of the Games and the date the team is scheduled to arrive at the Village, it should not be long before those dates are arrived at.

Both the Jamaica and United States teams will share the facilities during the camp.

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