Wed | Nov 25, 2020

London 2017 | Jamaicans expected to boost Birmingham's Commonwealth Games bid

Published:Sunday | July 30, 2017 | 12:00 AM
University of Birmingham Director of Sports Zena Wooldridge shows off the school's newly upgraded gym, which the Jamaican team is using as it currently prepares for the IAAF World Championships which start on Friday in London, England.

Director of Sports at the University of Birmingham Zena Wooldridge believes that hosting the Jamaican track and field delegation ahead of another major international championship will not only provide the best preparation for the Jamaicans, but also boost the city's 2022 Commonwealth Games bid.

The Midlands city is going up against fellow British candidate Liverpool as well as the Canadian city of Victoria for the chance to host the 2022 Games, with another six cities expressing an interest in staging the event after original hosts Durban in South Africa was stripped of their previously awarded hosting rights due to financial constraints.

This is the second time that Birmingham is hosting the Jamaicans after providing the base for their London 2012 Olympic Games preparation.

Wooldridge, who said that the entire school community is again thrilled to have the Jamaicans on campus, has no doubts also that their presence in the city - as well as that of the American contingent, which is based elsewhere in Birmingham, like they also were in 2012 - will add to its reputation as a leading city for international sporting events.

"It's fantastic for the University of Birmingham and fantastic for the city to be welcoming back our friends from Jamaica," Wooldridge stated before! A detailed tour of the university's impressive sporting and fitness facilities, which are being utilised by the Jamaicans.

"The fundamentals of running the camp this time are very much the same as in 2012, but the difference is that they have new facilities to work with," she added, pointing to a sparkling new £55 million sport- fitness facility, which boasts, among other things. an Olympic-sized swimming pool with adjustable flooring, a gym with over 200 pieces of equipment, courts, studios, a sports science and physiotherapy space, and even a rock climbing wall.

The university also recently completed a new synthetic running track just a few days before the Jamaicans' arrival on July 23.

"It's fabulous. It's a facility for the general student population and the community, but it's also a fantastic facility for our performance athletes at the university as well, and that's why it's so great to have the Jamaican team come here and train because it has everything that they need," added Wooldridge.

If the city's bid is successful, the University of Birmingham will host the field hockey and squash competition at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and with the facilities already in place and the trust shown by top international athletics teams like Jamaica and the United States, the administrator is confident of a positive decision.

"It all helps. We have a number of international events in the city and, of course, the World Indoors next year as well but hosting of events and camps like this is a reflection of the quality of the facilities that we have in the city, and for the Commonwealth Games bid, we already have 95 per cent of the facilities in place and plans already in place to fill that other five per cent of facilities," she added.

"But the overall strength of that bid is how the population of Birmingham is a microcosm of the Commonwealth, and I think that's a really strong feature. There are many benefits to Birmingham bidding. I think it's a very strong bid, and I think that potentially, it's Birmingham's time to host," Wooldridge said.

Over 190 languages are spoken among residents of Birmingham, with the city also having the population with the youngest age average in Europe.

Wooldridge noted that over 70 volunteers are assisting the Jamaican delegation here.

"The Jamaicans are very friendly. I think we have built up a really good rapport, both the staff and the volunteers, and it's great to have our students involved in terms of volunteering because they have also built up a very good rapport with the athletes, and they will do whatever they can to make the athletes' stay as comfortable as possible," Wooldridge said.

The Jamaican delegation will leave Birmingham on August 1 and head to London ahead of the August 4 - 13 World Championships.

- A.L.