As Olympic excitement builds in London, the pre-games preparations continue this week in Northern Ireland. The Olympic Badminton Team of South Africa today took time out from their pre-Games training camp at Lisburn Racquets for an official welcome reception at DCAL Offices in Belfast.
The four Olympians are the Men’s Doubles, Dorian James and Willem Viljoen (ranked 48th on qualification) and Ladies Doubles Michelle Edwards and Annari Viljoen (ranked 44th on qualification) and were accompanied by their South African National Coach Stewart Carson.
Welcoming the Olympians, Mick Cory from DCAL said, “It’s an honour to welcome the South African Badminton Olympians to Northern Ireland and although they have a tight training schedule in Lisburn Racquets I know, like all our pre-games athletes, they have been keen to get away from the court and unwind during the important rest periods. Some of our visiting Olympians have visited Titanic Belfast or Giants Causeway and all of the pre-games camps have provided an opportunity for local athletes to train with and learn vital coaching techniques from the Olympians. Sport yet again is showing the rest of the world what a wonderful place Northern Ireland is to visit.”
Sentiments echoed by Dominic Walsh from Sport Northern Ireland, “As part of the pre-games training regime, the South African Olympians are playing competitive badminton matches against Ulster High Performance players including our Number 1, Tony Stephenson, who has just returned home from a full-time two year period in Denmark. Lisburn Racquets and Ulster Badminton have arranged a terrific pre-games environment. Overall, 17 countries have chosen Northern Ireland as their base for final preparations before traveling to the London 2012 Games, with the Chinese gymnasts and several of the boxing teams already at the Olympic Village along with our Northern Ireland Olympians. As well as badminton, we can still catch the Olympic athletics teams training at the Antrim Forum this week.”
The Match Play sessions with the Ulster High Performance Badminton Squad are open to the public so everyone can watch Olympic athletes in action.