Birmingham warms up for Olympics

With four days to go until the Olympics it is good to reflect on the Greater Birmingham warm up towards the Olympics.  Just under 25 days ago Birmingham and the West Midlands gave a warm welcome to the Olympic flame as it made it's way to Cannon Hill Park for an overnight stop at the Coca Cola concert on the evening of the 30 June.  It's route through the Midlands attracted 1m people lining the route of the flame.

Meanwhile, new figures have revealed more than one million people turned to welcome the Olympic torch to the Midlands over the past few weeks.

Official figures revealed around 434,500 people saw it pass through Staffordshire and the Black Country. 

Another 152,000 people watched it weave through Birmingham, Solihull, Redditch and Warwickshire.

And more than 400,000 also saw it in Coventry, Rugby, Worcester and Stoke

The warm welcome has also come with a financial boost as over £520 million worth of contracts going to West Midlands businesses,  Indeed one of the most visible displays of the Olympics, the torches, were manufactured in Coventry.  The torches are manufactured by Coventry-based Premier Sheet Metal with the metal perforated with 8,000 holes to represent each of the torch bearers but also helping to reduce the weight of the torch and and prevent heat from being conducted to the bearer's hand,

The pictures below show the torch on it's way into the park on the evening of the 30 June being carried by Sir Cliff Richard.  Why Cliff Richard I hear you ask.  Birmingham is home to the largest number of his fans.

Five days ago Birmingham continued it's Olympic warm up by welcoming triple Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt who arrived as part of the 50-strong Jamaican track squad at the University of Birmingham to prepare for the Olympics, London 2012 Olympics: Usain Bolt arrives in Birmingham.

Everything from a Jamaican menu to ordering super-sized beds for 6ft 5ins Bolt and his lofty teammates has been planned to perfection by the university in the run-up to the team’s arrival. 

“It confirms Birmingham’s status as a great sporting city, and the university’s desire to support that. 

Zena Wooldridge, director of sport at the university, said: “It’s tremendously exciting news that the world’s fastest man will prepare for the Olympics in Birmingham. 
“Whilst the university has produced several home-grown Olympic athletes in recent years, it’s a thrill to have a team with the global pedigree of Jamaica on campus.”

Meanwhile across the city at the Alexander Stadium in Perry  Barr, Birmingham has welcomed the US track and field squad.  The team have welcomed the people and the general feel of the city and the weather has proved to be welcome being similar to the conditions in Seattle making training easier according to USA discus thrower Jarred Rome ,

One of the athletes was Manteo Mitchell, he was a member of the USA team that won the gold medal in the Men's 4x400 metres relay at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships.

Although he specialises in the 400 metre race in the Olympics he will be taking part in the 4x400 metre event.

He told Central News that the people of Birmingham have really welcomed Team USA to the Midlands and finds the city to be beautiful and they are glad to be here.

He went on to say they have fantastic training facilities in Birmingham and he is training hard to win the gold medal.


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