US team to use university base at London Olympics

Updated: March 10, 2010, 1:29 PM ET
Associated Press

LONDON -- 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."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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