Wales plays host to athletes from around the world
Paul Dancey on 24/08/2012
Around 530 Paralympic athletes and support staff from 15 nations have been based in Wales in the lead up to this year's Paralympic Games in London, attracted by the world class training facilities on offer.
Australian, US and GB cyclists have been training at Newport Velodrome. Australian Paralympic cycling team section manager Murray Lydeamore commented: "Since we've been here we've had so much local interest, from local cyclists riding alongside our guys out on the road, to the public and disability organisations keen to watch our track sessions. It's a great atmosphere".
New Zealand's athletics and shooting teams chose Swansea as a base, with their swimmers training at the Wales National Pool. Fiona Allan, chief executive of Paralympics New Zealand, explained: "With a combination of world class training facilities, proximity and quality of accommodation, and access to state of the art support services we feel Swansea will provide the ideal environment for our athletes to prepare for the Games".
The Mexican team have also used Swansea as their pre-games base, with around 70 athletes and support staff based at the city's university.
Meanwhile, Paralympians from Australia, China, Fiji, Korea, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, South Korea, Tonga and Vanuata have been been based in Cardiff.
Jason Hellwig, chef de mission of the Australian Paralympic Committee, said: "We selected Cardiff as our pre-games training camp due to the excellent sports facilities, infrastructure and friendliness of staff here in the city".
Carlee Beattie, Australian world championship long jump silver medallist added: "The weather is very similar to London which is helping us acclimatize and the support and friendliness we've experienced from the Welsh people has been incredible."
At a reception held by the Australian Paralympic Team at Cardiff Castle earlier this week, Finance Minister Jane Hutt said: "On behalf of the people of Wales and the Welsh Government, I would like to extend a warm welcome to the whole of the Australian Paralympic Team. We are delighted that you chose Wales to make final preparations for the London 2012 Paralympic Games and hope that your training is going well.
"Wales is home to a number of world class sporting facilities and I know you have been making use of a number of these in Cardiff and Newport. We are very lucky to have the Cardiff International Pool, Cardiff International Sports Stadium, Sport Wales National Centre and the National Velodrome in Newport here on our doorstep.
"Here in Wales we also have a tradition of producing world class Olympians and Paralympians that have made Wales proud with their medal winning performances. I hope some of their past performances have inspired you. Good luck at the Games and please come back to show us your medals!"
A total of 38 Paralympians from Wales have been included in TeamGB, and will be competing in London in a few days time in a wide range of sports including archery, athletics, boccia, cycling, fencing, football, rowing, sailing, sitting volleyball, swimming, table tennis, wheel chair basketball and wheel chair rugby.
The games will run for 11 days following the opening ceremony in the Olympics Stadium on Wednesday 29th August.
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