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Cardiff base for 2012

The South African team for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London will be based in Cardiff, Wales for pre-Games training.

This was announced jointly in Cardiff and Johannesburg today. South Africa is the third country to have chosen Wales as a venue. Australia and New Zealand had previously announced that they will be based there.

The decision to opt for Cardiff as the base came after exhaustive research, negotiation and hard work behind the scenes. A South African delegation visited a number of cities, including various options in the London area as well as Leeds.

The Australians will also be based in Cardiff and Newport and New Zealand in Swansea.

SASCOC’s Vinesh Maharaj, who will be project manager for the South African Paralympic team in 2012 said a large number of factors had to be taken into consideration. “Cardiff emerged as the choice because of the sheer number of facilities available to the team during the holding camp and also their outreach programmes in involving and developing athletes with disabilities for sporting excellence.

“Unlike the case with the Far Eastern countries there’s not a vast amount of travel to Wales and there won’t be the question of much acclimatisation needed so it’s envisaged that the camp will be for just four or five days, just before the team moves into the Olympic Village for the Games.”

Said SASCOC president Gideon Sam: “This was a very exciting adventure for us to identify the training facilities and we hope that our federations are as excited as us about the choice.

“This training camp will allow us to bring our managers and support structure along and this will also assist and facilitate the gelling together of the team. They need to get to know each other well before the Games. The last thing we want is for them to get to London and then meet each other for the first time. This way we will be able to build the trust, and naturally the spirit, of the team as early as possible.

“And lastly, while we are in Wales, and making use of their excellent facilities, we are looking forward to tapping into their own sporting expertise, their universities etc and hopefully form working relationships for the future.”

The Welsh Minister for Heritage Alun Ffred Jones said: ÔÇ£Following on from earlier announcements by the Australian and New Zealand Paralympic teams, this announcement by the South Africans is further good news, and a reflection of the excellent facilities we have here in Wales and hard work that has been put in by the Welsh Assembly Government and its partners, in this case, Disability Sport Wales and Cardiff Council.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£To put this announcement into perspective, to-date 16 nations have signed agreements with different parts of the UK to stage pre-game training camps for 2012 and many of those agreements are either for very small Olympic and Paralympic teams or agreements made by individual sports┬á- not multi-sport camps that involve large numbers of athletes and support staff.

“Wales now has almost one-fifth of┬áagreements, and all ours are large multi-sport camps. This means around 500 team members will be based here in Wales prior to the Paralympics.ÔÇØ