Canadians target city base

GB women's wheelchair basketball team v Canada at EIS
GB women's wheelchair basketball team v Canada at EIS

ABOUT 50 players and staff with the Canadian men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams are to set up camp in Sheffield before next summer’s Paralympic Games, it was announced yesterday (Wednesday).

They are expected to spend a week or more in the city, preparing for the London games with training at the English Institute of Sport in Attercliffe.

To coincide with the announcement, the men’s team was last night playing a match against the GB team. The women’s team stayed in Sheffield last June for a series of fixtures.

Paul Zachau, high performance director with Wheelchair Basketball Canada, said: “There’s only one year to go now before we’ll be playing in the most important games of our career, so we need to train in the very best facilities and against the very best opposition. Sheffield gives us both, and we are excited to be here today confirming our intentions for our pre-Games training camps.”

The Canadians are ranked seventh in the world, and are one of four teams now confirmed to be using Sheffield as a training base in the run-up to the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games next August.

Already signed up are the USA diving and Brazil judo Olympic squads and the Serbian Olympic committee, which is using Sheffield and Leeds.

Talks continue to be held with representatives of other sports from USA, Brazil and Canada.

Sheffield is keen to see its sports facilities used before the Olympic Games in recognition of the multi-million pound investments over the past 20 years and to help boost spending in the local economy.

But there is stiff competition from other towns and cities, especially from university location that could offer empty high quality halls of residence near training facilities. Athletes from China will make their final preparations at a training base at the Metropolitan University in Leeds.

In Sheffield, much of the potential accommodation is in the city centre and the facilities in the Don Valley.

The Canadian wheelchair basketball teams have yet to confirm their hotel or the exact length of their stay. So far they have stayed at the Premier Travel Inn near the Arena.

Coun Helen Mirfin-Boukouris, the council’s cabinet member for business, jobs and growth, said: “It is important for Sheffield to attract pre-Games training camps, both because of the economic boost they bring to the city, and the inspiration they give to people throughout the city to get more involved in sport.”