Wrexham has welcomed some very special visitors this week as Team Lesotho arrived in town to prepare for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Five Olympic hopefuls and their support team received a warm welcome after arriving in Wrexham after a mammoth 24 hour-plus journey.
Team Lesotho will train at Queensway Stadium and Waterworld Leisure Centre whilst residing at the newly built Wrexham Village student accommodation on the Glyndwr University campus for the next two weeks.
To mark the occasion the university is flying the country’s flag from its clocktower.
A university spokesman said: “We are extremely pleased to have Olympians staying with us. The university has longstanding connections with Lesotho and is proud to be hosting its athletes ahead of the games.”
Dreaming of Olympic glory with Team Lesotho will be 200m runner Mosito Lehata, swimmer Masmpe Theko and marathon runners Jobo Khatoane, Mamoroallo Tjoka and Motlokoa Nkhabutlane.
Wrexham is the only venue in north Wales to be selected by an Olympic team for the pre-games training period which was based on a selection process showcasing the town’s excellent sporting infrastructure, facilities, professional approach of staff and the general friendliness of the people of Wrexham and Wales.
Lesotho’s decision to bring their Olympic team to Wrexham builds on the unique relationship between the two countries dating back to 1985. The links have seen lecturers from Glyndwr University visit the Southern Africa country to help tackle the problem of HIV/AIDS. More recently, local schools have developed exchange programmes with Lesotho schools including The Maelor School, Penley with St. Saviour’s School, Leribe.
Cllr David Griffiths, Lead Member for Health said: “People turned out in their thousands to get a glimpse of the Olympic Torch in Wrexham earlier this year and I am sure we will all join in welcoming Lesotho’s athletes, coaches and support staff to the county borough.
“The fact that we will have Olympic athletes training in Wrexham is a ringing endorsement of our excellent sporting facilities. It will also inspire our residents to get active and feel more engaged and involved with the 2012 Olympics.
“I hope their experiences here will provide the best possible preparation and as well as a springboard for Olympic success.”
Sports Minister Huw Lewis said: “Camps such as these provide an excellent opportunity to develop our sporting, educational and cultural exchanges with these countries, and I would like to extend a warm Welsh welcome to the teams.
“For children and local communities they give us the opportunity to learn more about other nations and provide us with a positive Games legacy for Wales. It is well known that sport is a major influence on young people and having athletes of global stature training on their doorstep and living in their communities will be hugely inspirational.”
The team will be officially welcomed to Wrexham in a ceremony with the Mayor of Wrexham Cllr Ian Roberts later this week.