Page last updated at 18:20 GMT, Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Aldershot to host GB Olympic team

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The BOA deliberated over the Aldershot decision for a year

Aldershot Army base has been chosen as the training camp for the British Olympic team ahead of London 2012.

The Hampshire site beat bids from universities at Bath and Loughborough to be chosen as the base for Team GB.

It is thought the site's proximity to London and secure location prevailed over the two university campus sites.

"After much deliberation, our panel has decided Aldershot has the best package to meet Team GB's needs," said British Olympic Association boss Simon Clegg.

"We have been spoilt for choice in this process, and any one of the short-listed sites offered us a better option than we have experienced at any previous Olympic Games.

"In reaching this difficult decision, we have taken into account a wide range of factors that experience has shown are likely to impact on performance and final preparation for the Games."

The camp offers an ideal location for track and field athletes to concentrate on the job ahead and ensures they are able to focus on their preparations
UK Athletics' Dave Collins

Security was a key factor in the decision as the British Olympic team faced specific threats in the run-up to the Sydney and Athens Olympics.

Mr Clegg said: "Security was a factor in terms of who knows where we are going to be in world security next year, let alone 2012.

"The British team was the subject of specific security threats in the build-up to Athens and Sydney, particularly Athens, and security is of absolutely paramount importance to us."

He would not describe the nature of the threats.

Aldershot entered the bidding late, but crucially had the support of Mr Clegg, who served as a major at Aldershot, and the head of the Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt.

The Army's Centre of Sporting Excellence has many of the facilities in place for the 750-strong team that will descend on Aldershot.

Its new Olympic-sized 50m pool is already home to the British synchronised swimming team, while a 400m running track and two indoor sports arenas mean it is flexible enough to host training for a range of Olympic disciplines.

The athletes will stay in the Army barracks, where new recruits are traditionally housed.

I have trained here all my life, and to think that I can train here before the Olympics in 2012 - if selected - is just great
Stephanie Twell

Many performance directors from the Olympic sports visited the site over the year-long consultation process. The final decision was taken by a panel made up of Mr Clegg, Clive Woodward, the BOA's director of elite performance, plus director of Olympic operations Mark England and BOA Olympic performance managers Bernie Cotton and Mike Hay.

Dave Collins, performance director at UK Athletics, said: "The camp offers an ideal location for track and field athletes to concentrate on the job ahead and ensures they are able to focus on their preparations."

Stephanie Twell, the world junior number one at 1,500m and the European Junior Cross-Country Champion, is based in Aldershot.

"I took up athletics because the Aldershot track was almost in my back garden. I have trained here all my life, and to think that I can train here before the Olympics in 2012 - if selected - is just great."

Ties between the armed forces and the BOA have been strong over the years. As well as Mr Clegg's connection to Aldershot, double-Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes was a physical trainer in the adjutant general's corps.

The Army first set up a permanent camp in Aldershot in 1854. The numbers based at the camp grew so fast that the town soon became known as the home of the British army.

Aldershot is currently enjoying the benefits of a 12bn regeneration scheme and last month was named one of UK's most popular places to live.


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A look inside the Aldershot Army base in Hampshire



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