Five more Olympic teams to use NI as London 2012 base

Five more Olympic and Paralympic teams have selected Northern Ireland as a training base ahead of London 2012.

Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin announced on Wednesday that athletics teams from Qatar, Egypt, Kuwait and Sudan would use the Antrim Forum as a training camp base in July and August.

Jordan's Paralympic squad will also train at the Antrim venue.

Australia's Boxing squad and the Chinese gymnastics team have already confirmed Northern Ireland as a base.

Qatar is currently a particularly strong athletics nations with many Kenyan and other East African track and field competitiors having opted to switch allegiance to the Middle Eastern country.

"I am delighted that five more teams have decided to use our superb facilities for training camps in the lead up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London," said the Northern Ireland Sports Minister.

"So far eight countries have confirmed that they will train here.

"Confidential negotiations are still ongoing with a number of other countries who are considering holding training camps here.

"To have world-class Olympic and Paralympic athletes train in Antrim is tremendous and something the Antrim Forum and the wider community should be proud of."

Other countries considering holding pre-games training camp in Northern Ireland are understood to include the Cuban boxing team.

The chairman of Sport Northern Ireland Dominic Walsh also welcomed Wednesday's announcement, which was made at the Antrim Forum.

"Our local athletes and young people will be able to watch at close hand high performance athletes and get a real feel for the Games locally," said the Sport NI official.

"This announcement today is further testament to the superb partnership approach between Sport NI, government departments, governing bodies of sport and local Councils, which is ensuring that Northern Ireland has a tremendous calendar of activity in the run-up to the Games."

In addition to the pre-games training camps, a number of Olympic qualifying events, across a number of sports, are being staged in Northern Ireland.