Zambian and Vietnamese Paralympic Teams choose Ireland for London 2012 training base

                                                                                                         
Two teams supported as part of Irish Aid Programme
 
Zambia and Vietnam have accepted invitations to avail of training camps in Dublin and Limerick in the build-up to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring and Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello announced today.
 
This brings to 15 the number of countries which have chosen Ireland as a training base in the run-up to the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
 
The project was originally proposed by the Sports Council, and was developed through the London 2012 Co-ordinating Committee, which is chaired by Minister Ring.
 
The Zambian and Vietnamese teams are being facilitated as part of the Irish Aid programme - which is managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - in partnership with the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport and the Irish Sports Council.
 
The Zambian Paralympics Committee will be based in Dublin at Morton Stadium from August 6th to 27th. The team will comprise five athletes and three support staff, engaged in athletics and powerlifting.
 
The Vietnam Paralympics Committee will be based in the University of Limerick from July 20th to August 10th. The delegation of 17 includes athletes and support staff, participating in athletics, swimming and powerlifting.
 
Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring said: “Ireland will give a warm welcome to the Zambian and Vietnamese Paralympic teams in advance of London 2012. Training camps are a significant resource for athletes in advance of major tournaments, but are also expensive and beyond the reach of some teams. The facilities and resources exist in Ireland to offer our colleagues in Zambia and Vietnam the best possible preparation in advance of London 2012 and we are delighted to be in a position to support them in this way.”
 
The Paralympic teams were invited to Ireland by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  Announcing the visit, Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello TD said:
 
“I am delighted to welcome the Zambian and Vietnamese Paralympics teams to use our state-of-the-art facilities and experience our world-renowned hospitality.
 
“Ireland has built strong relations with Zambia and Vietnam through the Irish Aid programme. Our support to these countries is aimed at reducing poverty, increasing the number of children at school, supporting inclusive economic growth and assisting people with disability to access training and employment. By facilitating the teams in their preparations this summer, we are building on our support in the area of disability.
 
“Ireland also recognises the potential of both countries in terms of economic development and growth. Through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Africa Strategy, Ireland is engaging more coherently with Zambia and other Africa countries - economically, politically and through our aid programme. We are also developing stronger trade links with Vietnam, in particular through higher level education programmes.”
 
Welcoming the news, President of Paralympics Ireland James Gradwell said:
“We are delighted that the Irish Government and the Irish Sports Council have made this opportunity available for two up-and-coming Paralympic Teams to train in Ireland ahead of the London Paralympics. We look forward to welcoming them and sharing knowledge while they are in Ireland.  Paralympic sport is still developing worldwide and this initiative greatly assists the development of the athletes from Zambia and Vietnam.”
 
Both teams have been invited to participate in the Morton Pre-Games in Morton Stadium Santry on July 25th as part of their Paralympic preparation. Full details of the events are available on www.mortongames.ie
 
Meanwhile, Ireland recently hosted an international pentathlon preparation camp for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Union International Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) selected Ireland to host a riding preparation camp, with athletes from Austria, Germany, Lithuania and Russia attending.
 
The main focus of the training camp was equestrian, but athletes also maintained training for fencing, shooting, swimming and running which will be of benefit to Pentathlon Ireland’s Olympic hopeful Natalya Coyle.
 
Ends
 
Notes to the Editor
 
·         Irish Aid is the Government of Ireland’s programme of assistance to developing countries. It is a division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
·         Zambia has been an Irish Aid partner country since 1980. Vietnam has been an Irish Aid partner country since 2007.
·         The total budget for hosting both countries is €64,000. Funding was provided by the Irish Aid programme, with matching funding provided by the Irish Sports Council.
·         The Africa Strategy: ‘Ireland and Africa: Our partnership with a changing continent’ was launched by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in September 2011 to set out opportunities for enhanced trade and political relations.
·          To read the Africa Strategy, visit http://www.dfa.ie/uploads/documents/DCD/strategy_paper2.pdf.
 
Initial Publication Date: 
17/06/2012