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Olympic torch route, day 46: dropping in on Team GB’s preparation camp

3rd July 2012

An immense logistical operation is under way in Loughborough University, where athletes get their kits and train for the big event

Appropriately, the Olympic torch convoy is popping into the Team GB preparation camp at Loughborough University this morning. While most of the Olympic athletes will be training when it arrives, we will have around 185 members of the Olympic Ambition Programme – which offers young British athletes and coaches a unique opportunity to experience the Olympic games environment at first hand – on hand to welcome the flame.

During preparation camp my working days are very long, but I hope to take time out to watch the torch relay myself. And I’m sure the crowds will be out in Loughborough, as they have been all along the route. The response has really been extraordinary. I’m from north of the border myself, and I wondered how much excitement it would cause in Scotland, but the crowds were amazing, even in the smallest places.

The people of Loughborough are very conscious that we are all here in the fantastic facilities at their university, and I hope they’re proud about that.

The logistics of this operation are immense, and as well as the 70-80 support staff on site, we have an additional 40 volunteers working here, doing everything from welcoming arriving athletes to giving directions around the campus. Some are university students but many are from the town, so the links are close.

Our operation here is an essential part of athletes’ final preparations. The team’s kit sponsor, Adidas, is issuing 175,000 units of kit across 23 sizes, while Next are issuing 80,000 items of clothing across 64 sizes to the 550 athletes and 450 support staff who are expected to pass through the Team GB Experience, where all the athletes get kitted out.

As well as the sports and performance services, there is a four-star hotel on campus, and we have taken over a large part of it for our exclusive use: over the period of the camp we’ll be providing 3,000 bed nights. Security is a major consideration, of course, so we have a separate athletes’ check-in area, and all other guests staying there pass through airport-level security.

Athletes’ meals have been designed by our Team GB nutritionist, and they also have access to a 24/7 snack service – drinks, dried fruit, nuts, high-energy healthy foods – and everything in that area is meticulously labelled with the calorie count and all the nutritional information they need. No chocolate biscuits on offer. They also have access to an athletes’ lounge, designed for their exclusive use by our partners Powerade for relaxing at the end of the day. They can also socialise over Wii, table tennis and table football. However, with their hectic schedules including kitting-outs and training sessions, athletes staying here are often in bed fairly early – so we’ve been able to close up at night a little earlier than planned, before getting set for the next team’s arrival the following day.

Mike Hay is the director of the Team GB preparation camp at Loughborough University

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