With preparations for the Athens Olympics now about to enter their final phase, the British Olympic Association and UK Sport today announced an £800,000 investment by UK Sport in Team GB’s pre-Games preparation camps in Cyprus and Barcelona.
With both organisations having a significant role to play in the preparation and performance of the nation’s top Olympians, the move is another key element in the new partnership deal signed by Craig Reedie and Sue Campbell, the BOA and UK Sport’s respective Chairmen at the National Olympic Committee meeting on Wednesday 23 June.
Craig Reedie explained the thinking behind the initiative:
"The BOA is renowned around the world for the first class Preparation Camps it provides for British athletes immediately before Olympic Games. In an ever more competitive world we must give our athletes every possible chance to compete at the highest level.
"It makes perfect sense under the partnership the BOA and UK Sport signed on the 23 June, for the BOA to receive Lottery funding from UK Sport to enhance our services at the BOA Preparation Camps in Cyprus and Barcelona, directly before the Athens Olympic Games. This additional funding for the Camps will allow British athletes to arrive at the Games in the best possible competitive shape."
Sue Campbell welcomed the move as a critical factor in supporting Team GB in the run-up to the Games:
"When we reviewed with the BOA how we could work more effectively together in support of our leading sports, the first and most obvious thing we could do was to add value to the preparation camps for Athens, to ensure that our athletes have every chance of realising their potential at the Games in August."
"There is no doubt that Team GB’s outstanding performance in Sydney was built upon the hugely impressive preparation camp established in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast. The BOA has put comprehensive plans in place to provide similar camps in place pre-Athens, in Barcelona and Cyprus and we look forward to playing a part in ensuring their success."
The BOA/UK Sport partnership will ensure that the organisations coordinate their support for high-performance sport, eliminating any potential for overlap or duplication. This will simplify the relationships that both organisations have with leading sports governing bodies and builds on the way in which the BOA and UK Sport worked together to learn from the outcomes of the Sydney and Salt Lake City Games.
Key areas will be:
- Development of technical research projects and medical projects, such as the Elite Athlete Medical Records scheme and specific acclimatisation research
- Coordinated development of a truly world class high-performance sport system, concentrating on developing the skills of the people working within it, with particular emphasis on coaching
- Supporting joint projects like Performance Lifestyle and the OPEN Programme, as well as creating an Athletes’ Commission to represent the interests of the athletes in the system
- Creation of a 'Leadership Group’ for sport in the UK comprising key figures from the BOA, BPA, sports institutes and UK Sport.
The immediate benefit for Team GB however, will be the joint initiative in support of the Games preparation camps in Cyprus and Barcelona, which open for business in two weeks time. For UK Sport, the investment is a natural extension of its Lottery funded World Class Performance Programme (WCPP). In non-Olympic years, the WCCP would cover the majority of any overseas training camps run by Olympic or Paralympic sports, such as those being provided by the BOA in Barcelona and Cyprus. In an Olympic year, the BOA has traditionally been faced with the establishment of these vital camps, without any financial support from the WCPP.
Although the partnership was only unveiled last month, both the BOA and UK Sport have already begun to implement a number of joint initiatives – many of which have underway for some time – in order to offer sports as much help and support as possible in the lead-up to Athens.