Canadians get warm welcome

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  • Ready to go: the Western Ontario University track team will be here for training (Photograph supplied)

    Ready to go: the Western Ontario University track team will be here for training (Photograph supplied)

  • Perfect timing: Donna Raynor says the event benefits all (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Perfect timing: Donna Raynor says the event benefits all (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

The University of Western Ontario have sought much warmer Bermuda for a week of training, starting on January 2.

The forecast high temperature in Ontario in early January is 32F (0C), prompting the school’s track and field team to pack their bags for Bermuda, which will be twice as warm. They will also compete in a track meet while here, an event planned by the Bermuda National Athletics Association to assist athletes trying to qualify for Carifta and Commonwealth Games.

“We are looking forward to some outdoor training over the break, hopefully in the warmth,” said Vickie Croley, the UWO head coach.

Croley is bringing a team of 67 athletes and coaches to train at the National Sports Centre beginning January 2, a time when it is not conducive to practicing outdoors in Canada. The team will stay at Newstead-Belmont Hills.

It is the first time a track team has taken advantage of a strategic sports tourism partnership between the Bermuda Tourism Authority and National Sports Centre, a partnership that has existed since 2015.

Around the same time the track athletes are here, two other collegiate and high school teams will visit the island for swimming training at the National Sports Centre pool.

The three teams represent about 150 visitors and an estimated economic impact of $295,000 over a two-week period during the shoulder season, defined as the time from November through March when hotels, transport providers and others in the tourism industry stand to benefit the most from group travel.

“This training will kick off our 2018 season as we prepare for the Canadian University Championships in March,” Croley said. “We will also use this camp to provide some team building opportunities for our athletes. It’s an amazing opportunity to work with our athletes when they don’t have the stress from school combined with training for track and field.”

Western Ontario learnt of the opportunity to train here from a Bermudian alum of the school. The coach made a site visit in September to check it out and was sufficiently impressed with the training facilities and accommodations. Croley also plans for the students to visit some local attractions during the seven-night stay.

A highlight of their trip will be the track meet on Saturday, January 6 when the Mustangs will compete against local athletes aiming to reach qualifying standards for both the Carifta Games and Commonwealth Games.

Donna Raynor, president of the BNAA, said: “Based on my conversation with Vickie, she’s hoping for her athletes to qualify for some indoor championships. The events that we are featuring are more events that are run indoors as their preparation is for the indoor season versus ours which is geared more towards the outdoor season, specifically Carifta.

“We are both looking for competition for our athletes to find out where they are this early in the season. This is great for Vickie and for us as the timing is perfect for us both.”

Daniel Johnson, who works on sports tourism at the Bermuda Tourism Authority added: “It’s not just lip service when we say the involvement of Bermudians enhances the visitor experience. From the local alum who made the referral to the BNAA track meet, to the accommodations, all the pieces have fallen into place. It’s a great example of what’s possible when everyone is working together for the benefit of Bermuda’s tourism industry.”

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Published Dec 22, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 21, 2017 at 9:44 pm)

Canadians get warm welcome

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