Tuesday, 10 July 2012
Captions from top: China swimming star Chen Qian and colleagues at the Aquatics Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds
The China-flag inspired flowerbeds currently seen at King Lane roundabout in Moortown
China’s Olympic athletes have begun arriving in Leeds as they begin their pre-Games training camp ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Approximately 220 athletes, coaches and support staff will be based in Leeds over the coming four weeks as the sporting superpower which led the medals table at the 2008 Beijing Games completes its preparations for the world’s greatest sporting event.
Members of the China swimming team were put through their paces at the Aquatics Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport after arriving in Leeds over the weekend.
They included leading trio Lu Ying, Li Xuanxu and Chen Qian who all claimed medals in the 2011 FINA World Championships and will all be targeting more success in London. For 18-year-old Li Xuanxu this will be her second Olympic Games after competing in Beijing in 2008 at the age of just 14.
The swimmers will be joined in Leeds between now and Wednesday 8 August by athletes in seven other sports - table tennis, fencing, Taekwondo, track and field athletics, boxing, hockey, and canoe slalom.
Of these, table tennis, fencing and Taekwondo will be at the University of Leeds; track and field athletics is at Leeds Metropolitan University; boxing at Bradford College; hockey at Wakefield Hockey Club, and canoe slalom which will also be part of the official Leeds camp will be based and train at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham.
As well as the direct financial benefits of hosting the China team which is likely to be approximately £250,000, the deal is also expected to provide a major long-term boost to trade, commerce and tourism as well as strengthening cultural ties between Leeds, Yorkshire, the UK and China. The recently-launched Leeds Gold Business programme is intended to harness the opportunities that hosting the Chinese Olympic athletes in Leeds presents.
Leeds City Council executive member for leisure Councillor Adam Ogilvie said:
“We are delighted to welcome our special guests from China to Leeds and hope they have an enjoyable and productive stay in our city as they finish their preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“This is a historic achievement for Leeds to attract a real sporting superpower, and the media attention at the John Charles Centre for Sport to see their swimmers training was great to see and is a real testament to the world-class facilities we have.
“Hopefully that has set the tone for a very successful few weeks and beyond as we look to strengthen our cultural and economic ties with China in the future.”
Leeds will also be hosting pre-Games training for the Netherlands swimming squad at the Aquatics Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport from July 15-23, including reigning Olympic and world champion Ranomi Kromowidjojo (women’s 4x100 metre freestyle relay).
The Canada wheelchair rugby team will also be heading to Leeds to train at The University of Leeds from 13-20 August before competing in the London 2012 Paralympic Games which takes place from Wednesday 29 August to Sunday 9 September.
To add to the welcome the visiting Olympic and Paralympic teams will receive, Leeds City Council’s parks and countryside service have also produced special flowerbed displays around the city based on the colours of their national flags.
Leeds Kirkgate Market is also marking the athletes from China arriving in Leeds with a special celebration this week. Themed around Chinese cuisine, a series of tours, demonstrations and tastings will take place at The Source from Wednesday 11 July to Saturday 14 July at The Source, with special offers and vouchers along with Olympics-themed decoration on show throughout the market. The celebration will be launched at 11:30am on Wednesday 11 July with a display by Chinese lion dancers. To find out more visit www.leedsmarkets.co.uk or http://thesourceleeds.co.uk/
For more information on Leeds and its work towards the London 2012 Games, visit www.leedsgold.co.uk
Notes to editors:
Leeds Gold is the city’s official brand to support the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. It has been developed to be used by individuals and organisations in the city in connection with any projects, events or activities that contribute to, and capitalise on, all the opportunities that the hosting of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games present. It will provide an ‘umbrella’ brand that will link projects and events together and make a clear association with, and help celebrate, the London 2012 Games. For further information please go to www.leedsgold.co.uk
The Yorkshire region’s activities around the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games are being co-ordinated by Yorkshire Gold which is supported by key stakeholders from across the region. For further information visit www.yorkshire-gold.com
For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472
Posted by Leeds City Council press office at 16:01