Published: 07/06/2009 00:00 - Updated: 10/06/2009 11:36

Town eyes Olympic ring of confidence

Written byBY CHRIS GILL

Officials from an African nation are in Bedford today to see if the town could form the base of their Olympic Games dream.

Just one of the sites on showAnd more than a dozen other countries are due to follow suit over the next few months.

Should the local facilities impress it could prove to be boom time across the county in the run up to the 2012 games in London.

The countries, from Africa, the Far East and Europe, have all been lured by BOOST, an organisation set up in an attempt to bring the benefit of the Olympics to the area.

Lloyd Conaway, chairman of BOOST, said: "Thirteen or 14 countries have expressed an interest in using our facilities and the first of those nations will be in Bedford and Luton today.

"Today it is an African nation with particular interest in their paralympic team - and others will follow.

"We are delighted with the interest and we hope to attract people to spend time with us upto a year before the games and then a month before they move into the Olympic village.

"We want to spread the word about the county and can see the benefits of potential tourism, business development and cultural initiatives.

"We sent out 120 invites and we have got a good response."

Among the facilities being touted are the Bedford International Athletics Stadium, Bedfordshire University, for archery, Bedford Autodrome for cycling, Keysoe Equestrian centre, Bedford Modern School for table tennis and the Bunyan Centre for wrestling, judo and fencing.

Bedford Mayor Frank Branston, who instigated BOOST, said: "It may have seemed like a pipedream when I set it up, but it appears to have worked due to a lot of effort from many people."
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