Athletics New Zealand, a 25 person strong team of athletes, coaches and support staff are due to spend the following five weeks based at Cardiff’s Leckwith stadium.
Wales will host 17 pre-Games training camps in the lead in to the Games including athletes from more than 21 countries. Seven multi-sport and 10 single sport training camps will involve over 800 athletes and support staff.
Welcoming their presence in Wales, Sports Minister Huw Lewis said,
“Camps such as these provide an excellent opportunity to develop our sporting, educational and cultural exchanges with these countries, and I would like to extend a warm Welsh welcome to the New Zealand team. For children and local communities they give us the opportunity to learn more about other nations and provide us with a positive Games legacy for Wales.
“It is well known that sport is a major influence on young people and having athletes of global stature training on their doorstep and living in their communities will be hugely inspirational.”
Raylene Bates, Team Manager for the New Zealand Olympic Athletics team said,
“We chose Wales as there is a natural affinity between Wales and New Zealand that means we feel very comfortable here. We also wanted a base that we could use again in our preparations for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 so as long as everything goes to plan we’ll be back then.
“The main reason we chose to stay here however, is that the facilities here are second to none and the people are so helpful and welcoming.
“We have high hopes for our athletes. Our qualifying standards are very stringent so all our athletes have a realistic chance of reaching the top 16 and based on current world rankings, we have realistic medal prospects in our team. Our preparation is key to that and I’m sure that we’ll have the best build-up possible in Wales.”
Cardiff Council, Cabinet Member for Sport, Culture and Leisure, Cllr Huw Thomas, said,
"Cardiff is thrilled to have been selected as a pre-games training camp for 2012 Olympic and Paralympic teams and helps showcase Cardiff as an International sports city with excellent sporting infrastructure.
“Cardiff will play its part in helping the athletes prepare for the Games in order that they can "be the best they can" whilst ensuring an equally great visitor experience, we are honoured and proud to be assisting them during this important time.
“I extend a warm welcome to all of the teams and I wish them the very best success for London 2012.”
The teams now arriving in Wales is the result of four years hard work that started before the Beijing Games in 2008. Pre-Games training camps bring a direct investment into the economy running into millions of pounds and are an excellent opportunity to showcase the range of international standard sporting facilities we have in Wales.
With the 2014 Commonwealth Games taking place in Glasgow, the Welsh Government is targeting Commonwealth countries with the intention of developing a long term relationship with them. We hope that many countries will return to Wales prior to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and other major events in the UK.
The majority of teams in Wales are keen to get involved with the communities in which they’re staying and will take part in community activities while they’re here. Engaging with the teams while they are here will be an excellent opportunity for people in Wales to experience the Olympics at first hand.
The high profile nature of hosting these teams will help us to continue to raise the profile and reputation of Wales in the world.