US team to train at London university before games

The U.S. Olympic team will prepare and train for the 2012 London
Games at a university complex near the athletes’ village.

The University of East London announced Wednesday that about 600
U.S. athletes and 500 support staff will use its campuses, gyms and
sports facilities, including a new $26.8 million indoor sports
center that is expected to open next year.

While the athletes will stay in the Olympic Village, the staff
will use the student dorms and set up their own sports science,
medicine and media centers.

“This is a great opportunity for our athletes and staff to use
these excellent facilities at UEL and to enter this partnership for
the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” U.S. Olympic Committee
chief executive officer Scott Blackmun said in a statement.

American track and field athletes also plan to use facilities in
the central city of Birmingham before the Olympics.

The new sports center includes a gymnasium and fitness center,
two basketball and volleyball courts, two indoor soccer pitches, a
sports cafe and covered seating for 400 fans.

“The facilities at UEL will ensure that our athletes are ready
to compete,” said Mike English, the USOC’s chief of sport
performance.

The UEL doesn’t have is a 400-meter running track or 50-meter
pool.

“There are not a lot of them in east London,” said Paul Ford,
the university’s director of Olympics and Paralympics operations.
“But the local organizing committee have identified venues which
are a 30-minute drive from the Olympic Park. The U.S. will have to
share those facilities with other teams.”

Regarding USOC payment for use of facilities, Ford said the
partnership with the university was “not financial” apart from
the cost of renting some of the facilities.

“It is about Team USA leaving a legacy with the university and
the community, working beyond the games,” he said. “It’s not just
about the three weeks of the games.”