Halesowen hopes to host Commonwealth Games stars

Halesowen could host some of the world's top athletes if a bid to provide a training camp ahead of the Commonwealth Games is successful.

Halesowen Athletic & Cycling Club is hoping to provide a training camp ahead of the Commonwealth Games
Halesowen Athletic & Cycling Club is hoping to provide a training camp ahead of the Commonwealth Games

Halesowen Athletic & Cycling Club is hoping its Manor Abbey sports ground will be selected as a training venue ahead of the Games coming to Birmingham in 2022.

David Viner, a club trustee, said the ground was ideally suited to hosting athletics, track cycling and triathlon teams.

The club has submitted a bid with the Birmingham 2022 organisers, and Mr Viner said it would be a huge boost to the town if the club was selected.

Some of the 71 nations and territories taking part in the Games are looking to set up camps to prepare for the event, and the organising committee has invited clubs and local authorities in the West Midlands to submit tenders.

Helen Scott is one of the club's most famous members

Mr Viner said the club had top-class facilities, including a four-lane, 375m running track, and said its location on the edge of the Worcestershire countryside made it an ideal location for triathlon teams to practise road cycling.

He said providing a training camp for some of the world's top athletes would provide a massive boost to the town.

“Making the facilities at Manor Abbey as a training camp for competitors in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games would be a great opportunity for our members and the local community to engage in what is going to be a huge sporting event," said Mr Viner.

"What better way is there to inspire local youngsters into sport. Watching world class sportsmen and women training for the Games could be the first step for any young boy or girl in becoming a world champion of the future.

"A lot of people won't be able to see the competition, but there might be a chance to see the top athletes working on their training."

One of the club's most famous members is tandem cyclist Helen Scott, with four Commonwealth Games gold medals to her name.

International cyclist Alistair Fielding trains at Halesowen during lockdown

Some of the 71 nations and territories taking part in the Games are looking to set up camps to prepare for the Games, which will be the largest sporting event to have been held in the West Midlands.

Bosses say hosting national teams could not only provide an economic boost, but also raise the profile of the venues and inspire young people from local clubs.

Chairman of Birmingham 2022, John Crabtree, said: “We have frequently said that the whole region and even the whole country will benefit from Birmingham 2022 and pre-Games training camps are a really great example of how that’s possible.

"We're expecting 6,500 athletes and officials to come to Birmingham and the region to compete in the Games and many of those teams, especially from the larger Commonwealth nations, will be looking to arrive early, acclimatise and fine tune their preparations, before moving into the official Games time accommodation.”

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston said it was an exciting opportunity for communities to play their part in Birmingham 2022.

School pupils from the Dudley Invictus Trust pictured trying out the cycle track last year

"From fostering relationships with other Commonwealth nations to building the profile of local venues and facilities, there are significant benefits from hosting pre-Games training camps," he said.

"I would encourage anywhere with the right facilities to express their interest."

Birmingham itself has previously hosted pre-games training camps, with the USA track and field team using the Alexander Stadium and the Jamaican Athletics Association previously choosing Birmingham University prior to both the London 2012 Olympic Games and the London 2017 World Athletics Championships.

Work has already begun on the £73 million Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Smethwick, which is due to be completed by Spring 2022.

The building will include a 50m Olympic-sized swimming pool, as well as a 25m pool for diving. There will also be a community pool and seats for up to 1,000 spectators.

Any local authority, facility manager or sports club interested in hosting pre-games training camps for whole delegations or single sports teams can email B2022trainingcamps@dcms.gov.uk

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