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T&T bids to host US swim team
“Visionary” is how Candi MacConaugha, international games manager of USA Swimming, described the approach being taken by the Ministry of Sport and the Sports Company (SporTT) with regard to the George Bovell National Aquatic Centre. The elite facility is currently under construction at Couva and was among several stops on a whirlwind tour on Thursday by three officials of USA Swimming.
The team comprised MacConaugha, national team director Frank Busch and national team managing director Lindsay Mintenko, who visited T&T to gauge its suitability to host the US Olympic swim team ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Minister of Sport Anil Roberts led the visiting officials on a tour of the George Bovell National Aquatic Centre site where the athletes will train and two major hotels (Hyatt Regency and Hilton Trinidad) where the athletes will stay during their pre-Olympic camp.
The day’s tour also included a presentation on the specifications of the centre and a meeting involving ministers Khan, Cadiz and Warner to discuss all the logistical arrangements that could be made for the multiple Olympic and World Championship medal-winning team. Roberts said he is confident that T&T will be successful in this bid, citing the positive responses from the US team and the capacity to deliver on all the requirements of the team once they arrive.
The minister said: “Imagine the buzz that will be created when athletes like Ryan Lochte land in T&T. The excitement will be palpable and everyone will be keen to ensure their stay is pleasant, safe and productive.” Minister Roberts also highlighted that apart from the economic benefits that will accrue from a squad of 80 persons coming to T&T for a week, the fact that the number one swim team in the world would choose this country as its location for its final training camp before the prestigious games would be an endorsement of the George Bovell Aquatic Centre and by extension T&T as a preferred venue for elite sport and training activities.
The Aquatic Centre is to be completed by September 2014 and will boast of modern, state-of-the-art training and competition spaces for swimming, diving, water polo and synchronised swimming. The centre is expected to achieve several objectives in the development of high-performance sport including provision of top class training facilities for local and regional athletes, as well as the creation of a sport-related income generator through hosting of competitions and the spin-off of domestic, regional and international sport tourism.
T&T, as the only English-speaking territory being considered for this venture, expects to learn by the end of March whether USA Swimming will take up on the offer to make this country their base camp before they head off to Rio, Brazil, in 2016.
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