London 2012: Olympics inspires community sport projects

Community projects are being set up ahead of the Olympic torch being carried through the nation's streets next year, it has emerged.

Short-listed torchbearers are being notified in August if they could be picked to carry the flame in Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth and Bangor in May.

And projects inspired by the games' ethos are being finalised, including opportunities to participate in community activities.

Every county in Wales is involved.

London 2012 has been awarding an "inspire mark" under its Cultural Olympiad programme to community projects covering culture, sport, education, volunteering and the environment.

Among the projects, Cardiff University and the Welsh Amateur Boxing Association (WABA) are working towards creating a regional training centre for students, as well as local boxing clubs and associations.

And student physiotherapists are receiving training to enable them to provide volunteer support to Olympics and Paralympics athletes.

During the 2012 games the university will host the Australian Paralympics basketball team and provide training facilities for pre-football tournament teams.

They are also hosting boxing training camps for developing countries with the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) starting in January and they want to utilise infrastucture set up to host the visits to support boxing long after overseas boxers have returned home.

Other community projects include plans by UK charity Sports Leaders UK to create 22 outreach centres in Wales along with street games events targeted at more deprived areas.

Hip hop

And in each county it wants to establish a group made up of council leisure, education and sports development officials as well as sports clubs and Communities First groups to "share expertise and coordinate activities that are inspired by 2012".

In Conwy, the council is developing its Sporting Heroes project to increase the number of young people aged 17-plus who volunteer to provide sport training to local clubs.

And Caerphilly council is looking at ways of improving its relationship with sports groups and the facilities it provides to increase the number of people who use its equipment.

Meanwhile, Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay has been running its Criw Cymru programme for some time, providing hip hop workshops in locations across Wales for young people aged 11-18.

Dancers are taught about maintaining their health through dance and good nutrition.

And organisers say their ambition is that Criw Cymru is of a "standard to perform at Olympic live sites in 2012" if such an opportunity arises.

Earlier in July, Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod was awarded the inspire mark for a second year.

A spokesman said it was the festival's All the World, More Smiles initiative which caught the eye of the Cultural Olympiad.

It is an outreach project where groups and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds are given the opportunity to showcase their talent alongside others.

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