Lord Coe backs Ipswich to go for gold

Ipswich’s young sporting stars can become Olympians of the future by having London 2012 athletes on their doorstep.

That is the claim of Lord Coe who said the town was in a prime position to benefit from next year’s Olympics.

With the Brazilian gymnastics team set to train and live in Ipswich during the Games, the London Olympics chairman stressed that the “exposure” of star athletes could help propel local youngsters to future stardom.

Lord Coe said: “The Olympics is not just about London or building venues. We want to offer local communities a chance to be part of the Games experience and we want to give local kids who might have Olympic sporting ambitions a chance to get close to the 2012 athletes.

“We want athletes to be well prepared in camps such as Ipswich but we also want to increase the exposure of top-class competition into the communities.”

In January, it was confirmed that the Brazilian gymnastics teams would be based in Ipswich and use Pipers Vale Gymnastics Centre as an integral part of their preparations for the initial qualifying heats early next year and then the Games itself.

Lord Coe, who won two Olympic gold medals in 1980 and 1984, stressed the importance of choosing the right training camps adding: “When I competed, it was about turning up to an Olympics a few days before and almost hoping for the best. But the world of sports preparation has now become very scientific.

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“50 per cent of national Olympic committees bringing athletes to the UK will come with 10 or less athletes so we need to find a way to get them here in the first place let alone give them an opportunity to prepare.”

During his visit to Ipswich, Gustavo Satio Harada, supervisor of Brazil’s Elite Sports Department of High Performance, praised Pipers Vale and paid particular tribute to the number of youngsters involved at the centre.

Andy Wood, head coach at Pipers Vale, said: “During his visit, Mr Harada was absolutely gobsmacked by what we were offering.

“He wants the Brazilian team to be part of that and we are planning to make their stay a real community effort. With plans to twin areas of Brazil and Ipswich from a sporting perspective, it is going to leave a massive legacy.

“And for our youngsters, you can’t get a bigger inspiration than seeing athletes first hand. They will know exactly what it takes to be an Olympic athlete.”

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