Press release issued 4 July 2012
Bristol is planning a warm welcome for the Team Kenya athletes who arrive today [Wednesday, 4 July] ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The visit has been arranged by the Bristol Kenya Partnership (BKP), headed up by Bob Reeves from the University of Bristol and his long-standing friend, Kenyan running legend Kip Keino.
The Kenyan Olympic squad will train at the Olympic standard Kip Keino Stadium at SGS College (formally called Filton College) in the run up to London 2012, with accommodation being provided at UWE Bristol’s Frenchay Campus.
There will be approximately 40 athletes, including all the runners apart from those competing in the long-distance events, who have stayed in Kenya to train at altitude. The team staying in Bristol also includes two swimmers and a female weightlifter.
David Rudisha, world record holder and reigning world champion for 800m, will arrive at Bristol next week after running in Paris at the weekend.
BKP Chairman Bob Reeves, who has worked at the University of Bristol for 40 years, said: “We’re really excited to have the Kenyan team in Bristol. It’s our way of engaging in the biggest sporting event ever held in the United Kingdom.
“Bristol's athletics facilities have greatly improved in recent years and this has in part been motivated by the agreement reached with the Kenyans, with the support of Bristol City Council. This will provide a long term legacy, as will the partnership arrangements now in place between 21 schools in Bristol and Kenyan counterparts.”
As part of the legacy created by the partnership, 10 schools have been involved in student and staff exchanges. Students from UWE Bristol, Filton College and the University of Bristol have also taken part in sports development programmes in Kenya, while members of the Kenyan Association in Bristol have visited a number of local schools to explain about Kenyan culture, even teaching some Swahili.
Bob struck up a friendship with Kip Keino during a number of visits to the Safari Sevens in Nairobi, in which the University of Bristol rugby teams have competed over the years.
He found Kip to be a fellow rugby fan and the friendship has since sparked a long relationship between Bristol and Kenya, a successful partnership which will be marked tomorrow when Bristol City Council awards the 72-year-old with the city’s greatest honour - the Freedom of the City.
Kip is a renowned Kenyan track and field athlete and two-time Olympic gold medalist who is currently president of the Kenyan Olympic Committee and a senior member of the International Olympic Committee. In 2007, he was made an honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Bristol.
About the Bristol Kenya Partnership
The Bristol Kenya Partnership was formed in 2008 as a result of the friendship between Bob Reeves and Kip Keino. It’s officially called Umoja – the Bristol Kenya Partnership, with umoja being the Swahili word for 'togetherness'. It’s a charity established to foster sporting, educational, cultural and commercial links between Bristol and Kenya ahead of London 2012.
It’s hoped the partnership will be a catalyst for creating long-lasting, meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships; that it should create a special legacy that delivers value to people and communities in both Bristol and Kenya for years to come.
The training camp is being supported by UWE Bristol, University of Bristol, WISE SGS, Bristol City Council and others. For further information, see www.bristolkenyapartnership.com
About the Kip Keino Stadium
The Kip Keino Stadium is based at the WISE Campus at SGS College (formally called Filton College) and is one of only six venues in the South West which has UK Athletics class 'A' certification for its athletics facilities. The former training track has been transformed thanks to a £1.3 million investment, including £450,000 from Bristol City Council towards the development.
Floodlights have been installed so it can be used at night, and £70,000 of new equipment, including pole vaults, hurdles and high jumps, has been added.
Bob Reeves with Kip Keino in Bristol
It’s our way of engaging in the biggest sporting event ever held in the United Kingdom. Bristol's athletics facilities have greatly improved in recent years and this has in part been motivated by the agreement reached with the Kenyans.