Leader on track for success in Berlin

By on 13/08/2009 in News

Birmingham City Council Leader Mike Whitby today met the world's fastest man Usain Bolt as he stepped up efforts to attract the Jamaican national squad to the city for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Cllr Whitby is in Berlin ahead of the World Athletics Championships and earlier met Jamaican Minister of Youth, Sports & Culture Olivia Grange to promote Birmingham as a training base.

He said: “We had a very encouraging meeting with the Minister and to meet Usain Bolt was the icing on the cake. It would be a tremendous boost for the city if we can play host to Usain and the rest of the Jamaican squad in 2012.”

Today's talks followed another boost last night when recently appointed USA Track and Field Chief Executive Doug Logan reiterated American intentions to use Birmingham as a training base ahead of the 2012 Games.

Speaking at a star-studded reception in Berlin, Logan confirmed a formal contract is now being drawn-up with a signing date to be confirmed shortly.

Cllr Whitby, who joined the likes of London 2012 Organising Committee Chair Lord Coe and IAAF President Lamine Diack, later said: “I'm in Berlin because the big decision makers of world athletics are here and we have to show them that Birmingham means business for 2012.

“For Doug Logan to stress USA Track and Field's commitment to basing themselves in Birmingham was a ringing endorsement and can only enhance our efforts to attract more countries.

“With the USA contract currently being drawn-up, the Americans have clearly recognised that Birmingham is the place to be ahead of the British Olympics and that sends out a signal to a host of other interested countries.

“We've got everything: location, facilities, transport links and the interested countries also know they can be guaranteed a warm welcome in Birmingham - something that should not be underestimated as they will be making our city their home as they finalise preparations for the greatest sporting contest of them all.

 “Now we sincerely hope that Jamaica will ultimately choose Birmingham. Put America and Jamaica in our city and the world's press will follow. They will learn even more about our wonderful city and that will enrich our reputation worldwide.

“This is not just about sporting people coming to see our city. The evidence proves that when major teams have used a city as a training camp, the legacy is that people then want to visit that city afterwards.

“Equally it means that Birmingham is playing its part in making sure that the Olympics of 2012 are a truly British event. Our track record is second to none and senior figures in the world of athletics know and acknowledge that.”

ENDS

To find the video on YouTube go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lb_b6kI3Lgw

For more information call Geoff Coleman on 07920 750 004.

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