Northern Ireland

Australian Olympic boxing team to train in Northern Ireland

An Olympic team has finally signed up to use Northern Ireland as its training base for the 2012 games.

The Australian Olympic boxing team has signed a letter of intent to set up its London 2012 training camp in Northern Ireland.

They are the first team to do so.

It is understood the boxers will be based in Belfast, which they chose after being impressed by a dvd highlighting the boxing facilities available in Northern Ireland.

Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin said it was "really good news".

"Throughout all this period of speculation, Sport NI, in conjunction with others from various sporting disciplines, have tried to secure pre-games training and qualifying events here and I'm confident they've done well so far," she said.

She said other teams, including China's gymnasts, were still interested in basing themselves in Northern Ireland.

"They left us with a great impression, they also left with a view to coming back," she said.

"So we just need to give them the space to come back."

Sport Northern Ireland chairman Dominic Walsh said: "To be able to host the Australian Olympic boxing team for their preparations for the London 2012 Games is fantastic news, for the sport of boxing, to inspire our young athletes, and for Northern Ireland as a whole.

"As with all pre-games training camps, this announcement is subject to detailed terms being agreed, however our progress in this area is encouraging."

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