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Warm Weather Training Camp, South Africa

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Helen Clitheroe, Jemma Simpson and Sam Ellis
Helen Clitheroe, Jemma Simpson and Sam Ellis train together


22 January 2008



More than 6,000 miles from home and under the glorious blue skies of a South African summer British athletes have begun their preparations for an Olympic & Paralympic year.


Two hours south of Johannesburg, at the largest ever UKA warm weather-training camp in the small university town of Potchefstroom, 37 Lottery funded athletes are benefiting from sport science, medical support, state-of-the-art facilities and sun.


Whether on the plush grass track at the Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds, at the PUK-McArthur Stadium or in the gym at the North West University High Performance Institute, individuals are putting in the hard work that will lay the foundations for success at this year’s Olympics or Paralympics in Beijing.


Training up to three times a day, the 27 able bodied and ten disability athletes have full access to UKA and English Institute of Sport coaches and staff who cover strength & conditioning, physiology, physiotherapy, nutrition, soft tissue and medical therapy and support.


Replicating the atmosphere and conditions of one the four UKA High Performance Athletics Centre back at home, the camp for the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team has the firm backing of the athletes.


As well as training, athletes prepared for coping with the heat and air pollution in Beijing, undergoing physiological testing to develop hydration strategies.



Tom Parsons
Tom Parsons uses the camp's top facilities

World 400m champion Christine Ohuorugu explained that a mix of temperatures in the low 30s centigrade and the first rate facilities mean that athletes can focus entirely on training.


She said: “You can train anywhere, but the facilities are great here and everything is in one place which is also a benefit.


“The key is in the name, warm weather training. To be out here with such great facilities in such good weather really helps. It’s good to get away from the weather back home and the mundane back home to get some really quality training in at this time of the year.”


The first athletes travelled out to Potchefstroom in late December and the country’s best medal hopes for Beijing – from Paula Radcliffe to Kelly Sotherton – have spent an average of three weeks at the camp, funded by UK Sport and the Lottery.


Several athletes return home in the next few days to further prepare themselves for the Norwich Union indoor series throughout January and February and to concentrate on the short term goals of the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain and the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh in March.