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Ulster Welcomes Paralympic Athletes

The University of Ulster will welcome Paralympic athletes from Hungary, Russia, England, Scotland and Wales to the Jordanstown campus today.

The wheelchair fencers will be training for a week at the multi-million pound sports centre ahead of the 2012 Games this summer.

Dr Nigel Dobson, Head of Sports Services at the University, said: “As a designated London 2012 training base we are delighted to be welcoming a few of the leading nations in wheelchair fencing to the University of Ulster. This training camp builds on our reputation as a world class venue for performance sport and major events.”

Earlier today the Sports Minister has announced that five more countries are to train in Northern Ireland in preparation for the 2012 Games. Three boxing teams from Columbia, Canada and Puerto Ricoand two athletics teams from Algeria and Djibouti will arrive are over the next few weeks.

Carál Ní Chuilín said: “This is terrific news and a wonderful honour to be hosting all of these countries over the next few weeks. Fifteen countries choosing our venues to train as they prepare for the London 2012 Games is a tremendous achievement. This is also a vote of confidence in our venues and hospitality and a boost for local athletes who will watch and compete with the best in the world on their own home ground.

“In addition we welcome wheelchair fencers from Hungary, Russia, England, Scotland and Wales for a training event which begins at the University of Ulster today. The Irish Paralympic team will arrive here at the end of the week to train at the Antrim Forum.

“In recent weeks we have witnessed how the visit of the Olympic Flame has captured the imagination of local people, there is no doubt that the pre-Games training camps will have the same impact and will inspire many sports men and women of the future.”

Chair of Sport Northern Ireland, Dominic Walsh, added: “Sport Northern Ireland has worked very hard with our Department and many others to attract as many Olympic and Paralympic athletes as possible in the run up to the 2012 Games.

We are delighted so many of them have chosen to base themselves here before entering the Olympic Village and I would like to offer them all a very warm welcome.”

Last year, the University of Ulster was one of the few organisations to host a pre Games training qualifying event, the Boccia World Cup, which was held at the Jordanstown campus. This was a Paralympics qualifying event, which involved 200 plus participants from 33 countries and was heralded as a great success by all participants.