Olympic teams target Ipswich as base

IPSWICH is in talks with two Olympic teams interested in using the town as a base for the 2012 games, it can be revealed today.

IPSWICH is in talks with two Olympic teams interested in using the town as a base for the 2012 games, it can be revealed today.

Both Barbados and Azerbaijan are considering setting up camp in Ipswich after town chiefs got in touch with more than 100 Olympic national Olympic committees promoting the facilities the town has to offer.

Bosses at Ipswich Borough Council believe more teams may follow suit and see Ipswich, just 45 miles from where the games will be held in Stratford, as the ideal place for athletes to train in the lead up to the games.

It is hoped several teams could eventually sign up to use Ipswich as a base, a situation that would provide a boost for the area's economy in terms of tourism, prestige and getting children involved with sport.

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Judy Terry, responsible for arts, culture and leisure at Ipswich Borough Council, said: “This is a very exciting step and we look forward to hearing more.

“Ipswich is already home to many different communities and we hope to have the pleasure to host international teams during their preparation for the 2012 games.

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“We are sure that Ipswich people will give any international team a warm welcome.”

It is understood delegates from Azerbaijan and Barbados will tour Ipswich and the surrounding areas in spring prior to making a final decision.

Top facilities athletes could use include Ipswich Fencing club, Northgate Sports Centre, Ipswich Town Football Club, Ipswich Gymnastics Centre and equestrian facilities at Otley College.

The council's Team Ipswich initiative has been working hard behind the scenes to ensure opportunities around the Olympics are maximised.

Jonathan Owen, director at Ipswich Council, said: “We realise it is early days with regards to successfully hosting an Olympic team for 2012 but we remain optimistic about the response so far.

“We also feel the work we are putting in to ensure teams visiting the town have the best possible experience will make Ipswich the place to stay.”

Fast facts: Azerbaijan

- Former world chess champion Gary Kasparov learned his gambits and openings growing up in Azerbaijan

- Pop star and member of Queen Freddie Mercury was born Faroukh Bulsara in Zanzibar but his parents were Azerbaijani Zoroastians.

- Musa Manarov became the first person to spend more than a year in space on the Mir space station

Fast facts: Barbados

- Barbados lies to the east of the Caribbean. Its capital is Bridgetown

- There is a statue of Lord Nelson in National Heroes Square which predates Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square by 27 years.

- Barbados has been an independent country since November 1966

- Gary Sobers and Frank Worrell are among the nation's famous cricketers

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