Lesotho Olympics team to train in Wrexham ahead of London 2012
A top Lesotho Government official was given a tour of Wrexham’s sports facilities following confirmation that the country’s Olympic team is to train in the town ahead of London 2012.
Teboho Mohapi, Acting High Commissioner for the Kingdom of Lesotho in the UK, met representatives from Glyndŵr University and Wrexham Council during the visit.
After meeting the university’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Scott, Mr Mohapi visited the Glyndŵr University sports centre, Glyndŵr University Racecourse Stadium, Wrexham Village, Wrexham Boxing Club, Queensway Stadium and Waterworld Leisure & Activity Centre.
Seven athletes in sports including boxing, marathon running and Tae Kwon Do are expected to base themselves in Wrexham for two weeks in July, prior to the Olympic games.
Plans to bring the team to Wrexham were finalised this week – making Lesotho the only Olympic team which will be based at a pre-games training camp in north Wales.
The party which welcomed Mr Mohapi included Dr Carl Clowes, Wales Honorary Consul for Lesotho, Anna Marie Brown, Sports Manager at Glyndŵr University, David Evans, from the Welsh Government’s major events unit, and Ken Danskin, Principal Leisure Officer at Wrexham Council.
Cllr Bob Dutton OBE, Lead Member for Communities & Performance at Wrexham Council, said: “Wrexham Council is committed to creating a healthy, active, sporting town and it is an honour to welcome these inspiring and credible athletes to our area as they prepare to compete in the greatest world sporting event.'
“I would encourage anyone who is inspired by Lesotho's planned visit to Wrexham and London 2012 to sign up to become a 'Local Leader' at www.london2012.com/localleaders. Here you can receive a free event toolkit to really kick-start your community celebrations.”
Lesotho’s decision to bring their Olympic team to Wrexham builds on links between the two countries dating back to 1985.
The links have seen lecturers from Glyndŵr University visit the South African country to help tackle the problem of HIV/AIDS.
More recently, local schools have developed partnership programmes with Lesotho schools including The Maelor School, Penley with St. Saviour’s School, Leribe.
Dylan Gallanders, Young Gold Ambassador for Wrexham Council and pupil at The Maelor School, Penley was lucky enough to visit Lesotho during February half term where he talked to young people about the Olympic and Paralympic values of friendship, determination and respect. He said 'Visiting Lesotho was the best experience I could have asked for.
"The staff and students were really welcoming and were very excited that Lesotho athletes would be training in my home town."
Professor Michael Scott, Vice-Chancellor of Glyndŵr University, said: “We’re immensely proud that Glyndŵr University will play a part in hosting a team in the run up to the Olympics. The university has well established links with Lesotho and Wrexham has some outstanding sports facilities which the Lesotho Olympic team will have access to. Their presence in the town in the run-up to the Games will create a real buzz of excitement in the community.”
Dr Carl Clowes, Wales Honorary Consul for Lesotho, said: “I’m delighted that the Lesotho Olympic team will be coming to Wales and staying in Wrexham. This builds on the excellent and unique relationship which Wales has had with Lesotho for more than 20 years.”
Heritage Minister Huw Lewis said: “Pre-Games training camps will provide opportunities to develop sporting, educational and cultural exchanges with countries that come to Wales and provide opportunities for children and local communities to get involved, resulting in a positive Games legacy for Wales.
"It is anticipated that teams from at least 19 countries will train in Wales in the lead in to the Games involving close to 1,000 athletes and support staff with a direct investment into the economy running into millions of pounds."