Team GB to be based in Olympics 'dreamland' before Rio Games

When the British Olympic team head out to Rio next month to prepare for the Games they should banish thoughts about tempering expectations.

Many of the 350-strong line-up will be first-timers, debutants at one of the world's greatest sporting events, and may have to work hard to contain their excitement.

But, according to the team's chef de mission, Mark England, even the facilities at their preparation camp in Belo Horizonte will have the wow factor.

"The opportunity to be in the country and have quality training within a 45-minute flight from the Olympic city, you are in dreamland, and that's what we have secured," said the veteran of eight summer Games.

"We are one of the few national Olympic committees that actually provide a joined-up, as far as possible all-sport preparation camp and training base.

"We have a competitive advantage over other visiting teams. The comment that cropped up in one of the Brazilian papers was that 'these are brilliant facilities, why haven't the Brazilians decided to train here?'"

Team GB, or nearly half of them at least, will be based at two sites in Belo Horizonte, 270 miles from the Rio Games centre: at the multi-sport Minas Tenis Clube and the Minas Gerais Federal University, which are a short drive apart.

Between them, the sporting centres will host teams competing in 14 sports, including swimming, modern pentathlon, fencing, track and field, canoeing, shooting and rugby Sevens.

A £1.6m grant from UK Sport has funded international federation-standard facilities that are due to be used by 171 British athletes, making them and two accommodation bases available for 36 days from July 17.

The Minas Tenis Clube, which is a sporting private members' club and the venue the British Olympic Association (BOA) was most proud of securing, boasts five multi-purpose courts, an arena, an artistic gymnastics hall with a trampoline, and a judo training arena.

The venue also has rooms for strength and conditioning, first aid, medical treatment, physiotherapy and massage, sauna and steam rooms, briefing rooms, team management office, restaurant, café and rest area.

The idea is to give those competing under the Union Flag the chance to complete final-phase training, acclimatisation and warm-up matches, as well as providing places for rest and relaxation.

"We recognised very early on that our sports had not had much experience of South America, let alone Brazil," said England, who confirmed that the BOA had started its search for a base in 2010.

"For the first time in my memory, we will have track and field and swimming training at the same base.

"A number of national Olympic committees have approached us about sharing facilities and our response has been that we have exclusive agreements with our facility providers. It would have been too much of a compromise to our training programmes."

The resources available form part of Team GB's largest pre-Olympic Games set-up, and with the great facilities come a little pressure.

England said: "We have a very good plan that supports performance, is athlete-centric; we could not have done more.

"We expect medals to be won. All the indications are that we should be doing better than ever for an away games. We should be getting more than 47 medals and if we do, we will be thrilled.

"A new generation of heroes can come home with their heads held high."