North East Wales

London 2012: Lesotho Olympic team to train in Wrexham

Wales and Lesotho flags Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Schools in Wales have joined up with those in Lethoso as part of a partnership project

Officials have welcomed news that the Lesotho Olympic team are basing their pre-games training camp in Wrexham, using local facilities.

Delegates from the southern African country are due to visit in early February to firm up the plans.

Earlier this month it was announced the Olympic team for Botswana as well as Lesotho will be based in Wales with Paralympians from Liberia and Mexico.

Teams from 19 countries will train in Wales in the lead up to London 2012.

Officials from Wrexham and Lesotho said the link-up builds on the strong ties between both places, including a school partnership programme involving The Maelor School, Penley, with St Saviour's School in Leribe.

Coun Bob Dutton, lead member for communities and performance, said Wrexham would be honoured to welcome the athletes as they prepare to compete in the "greatest world sporting event".

"With less than 200 days until the start of the games this is a fantastic time to announce that an Olympic team has selected our town to use as a pre-games training camp," he said.

'Warm welcome'

Wrexham's Glyndwr University was a partner in the bid to host the Olympic team.

A spokesperson said: "We look forward to welcoming a delegation from the Lesotho National Olympic Committee when they visit Wrexham early next month."

Teams from at least 19 countries and involving around 1,000 athletes and support staff are expected to train in Wales.

Welsh minister Huw Lewis said pre-Olympic Games training camps provide opportunities to develop sporting, educational and cultural exchanges and provide opportunities for children and local communities to get involved.

"I'm pleased to hear that the Lesotho National Olympic Committee have chosen to base themselves in Wrexham," said the minister for housing, regeneration and heritage.

Lesotho's Ministry for Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation said Wales and Lesotho established the first country-to-country link in 1985 with schools, health personnel and churches taking part in exchanges.

A Lesotho consulate was established in Wales in 2001.

"It was only natural then that we should choose Wales as our base," said a spokesperson.

"Wales also has some excellent sports facilities to help us in our preparations for the 2012 Olympics and, as many Basotho (people from Lesotho) have visited and studied in Wales, our experience tells us that we will be guaranteed a very warm welcome."

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