Olympic and Paralympic preparations are paying off at Surrey Sports Park- Paul Blanchard

July 26, 2012

As we move into the last few remaining days before the Olympics, the whole of the country is currently busy planning for the iconic event – whether it be where to watch the games or transport around the events. For us the plans began a long time ago and we are now in the middle of our Olympic delivery campaign.

Back in 2010 Surrey and Surrey Sports Park began negotiations with a number of International Olympic and Paralympic Governing Bodies and their agents to secure their teams’ training facilities prior to the games. These negotiations were lengthy and complex with the range of sports and their differing requirements vast.

One of the main challenges around these discussions was the qualification process. A number of teams and athletes confirmed training at the park but they hadn’t qualified yet so the situation constantly changed. In many cases qualification was very late which included Nigeria Basketball whose participation in the Games was not confirmed until 3 weeks before the opening ceremony. Imagine a Football world Cup where teams do not qualify until 3 weeks before the first game.

As with any group of elite athletes, there is a long list of other considerations – training facilities, transport, catering, accommodation, social time, competitive training partners support services, language issues to name a few. When you multiply these issues by 15 Countries and 15 sports, the challenge is significant.

By the end of August 2012, The University of Surrey owned Surrey Sports Park is set to have hosted over 250 Olympic and Paralympic athletes, from 15 different nations from 4 continents. The majority of athletes will stay at the University of Surrey’s modern campus accommodation where will facilitate over 2,500 room nights.

Preparations on such a large scale are something we have become accustomed to as they are similar to past events we have held with other teams, such as GB Women’s and Men’s Futures Basketball teams as well as the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup. In addition, several of The Olympic nations had been for shadow camps during the previous 12 months.

With regards to preparing The Sports Park itself, we have brought in a special floor for both arenas where badminton and table tennis training will be taking place. The pool will be set at 50m for the duration of the pre games camps and an exclusive athlete and coach canteen has been established servicing the teams 24 hours per day. It is the closest that the athletes will get to the Olympic Village before they arrive.

We have also themed the park to ‘Celebrate Surrey’, giving the venue an Olympic feel with each training Nation’s flag featured and getting the local Surrey community excited about the great things happening in Surrey this year.

The Olympics is set to be one of the biggest events of our time and as one of the key sports sites in Surrey, it’s an honour to play an important role in supporting this fantastic sporting event, these world class international athletes, and all our staff are relishing the opportunity to be a part of it.


About Paul Blanchard:

Paul Blanchard is the CEO of Surrey Sports Park.

He has more than 20 years’ sports marketing experience with Ladbrokes, the NFL, Scottish Premier League, Southampton Football Club, The Oval and Super League.  Prior to joining Surrey Sports Park in 2011, he was Chief Executive of Harlequins Rugby League.

His career highlights include involvement in the 1996 World Bowl with The Scottish Claymore, 2003 FA Cup Final with Southampton Football Club and 2005 Ashes Victory at The Oval.

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