Sports Politics: British athletes animated by Disney deal as Government invests pounds 9m in training camp

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The Independent Online
Britain's Olympic medal hopes have received a boost with the announcement of a pounds 9m deal which will send athletes to prepare alongside America's finest and in Walt Disney's backyard.

The British Olympic Association yesterday announced a 12-year agreement, worth around pounds 750,000 a year, for top competitors from all Olympic sports to enjoy warm-weather training and facilities at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida.

As a second part of the deal, the Orlando Regional Health System will provide back-up treatment for injuries as well as supply rehabilitation and general health care. The Disney site caters for 20 of the 35 Olympic sports, with 10 others able to use general training facilities in the Florida sun.

British competitors will receive accommodation, meals, travel, training facilities and medical insurance for around pounds 50 per person per day. The BOA is determined to improve on Britain's disappointing showing in Atlanta, where the rowers Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent won Britain's only gold medal.

Welcoming the announcement, the Sports Minister, Tony Banks, said: "There is something about the winning of medals - whether it be at the Olympics or World Championships - that gives the whole nation a lift and the Government, on behalf of the people, will play its part in the investment required."

Banks said there would be an announcement on Friday about the structure of the long-delayed British Academy of Sport which, he said, would work alongside the facility in Orlando to the benefit of British Olympians. "The need to provide the best for our sportsmen and women is crucial to the country's success in major competitions and the Government welcomes the BOA's initiative," he said.