BPA chooses Belo Horizonte

By: Rob Fawdon, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, June 24, 2014: The British Paralympic Association has today signed an agreement with the City of Belo Horizonte and the State Government of Minas Gerais that will see ParalympicsGB train and prepare in the city in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games that will take place between 7th – 18th September 2016.

Following major accessibility upgrades, the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais [UFMG], the state’s top university, and Minas Tênis Clube, a state-of-the-art multi sports club, will be the main pre-games training centres for the athletes ahead of the Games. The BPA’s preparation camp will be supported by UK Sport with National Lottery funding. The official Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] was signed today by BPA CEO, Tim Hollingsworth, the Mayor of Belo Horizonte, Marcio Lacerda, Minas Gerais State Governor, Alberto Pinto Coelho, President of Minas Tênis Clube, Luiz Gustavo Miranda Lage, and on behalf of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Prof. Jamie Arturo Ramirez.

The agreement was made in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Harry who earlier took part in Rugby, Basketball and Judo activities with local children and Ben Quilter, ParalympicsGB’s Judo Bronze Medallist at London 2012, at the Minas Tênis Clube in Belo Horizonte.

The signing took place alongside a Global Players seminar, organized by the British Consulate in Brazil, which brought together senior representatives from British and Brazilian businesses to share perceptions of both markets and explore new business opportunities. The event ran in conjunction with the build up to England’s FIFA World Cup match against Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte later in the day.

The MoU, which is seen as an opportunity to strengthen both sporting and wider social understanding of disability in Minas Gerais and Belo Horizonte, comes on the back of the announcement from the British Olympic Association last year that Team GB will also be based in the city ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The agreement includes a commitment from all parties to work together to establish a mutually beneficial programme for exchanging cultural experiences and expertise while working towards a legacy with sporting, social, cultural and educational benefits, promoting wider integration and better social practices for disabled people.

Only a one hour flight from Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Brasilia, Belo Horizonte is one of the best connected cities in Brazil and the optimal year round temperatures and first class facilities make it an ideal location for sports training and preparation. Belo Horizonte is also currently hosting the national teams from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Speaking at the event, His Royal Highness Prince Harry said:

“I am delighted that the BPA has formed such a close partnership with the city of Belo Horizonte. London 2012 was a fantastic success and the Paralympic Games has moved on to a new level of excellence and excitement. The BPA is keen to build on this incredible legacy and I have no doubt that, through the partnerships announced today, the ParalympicsGB team will be best prepared for Rio 2016.”

Tim Hollingsworth, BPA CEO, said:

“We are delighted to be in Belo Horizonte to sign these agreements that will see Paralympics GB train and prepare here in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. This is a very exciting time as we step up our preparation for what will be a fantastic festival of Paralympic sport in just over two years time.

“We believe that we have found some fantastic facilities for our needs and I would like to thank all our new partners here in Belo Horizonte for working so hard to accommodate our requirements. I would also like to thank UK Sport and The National Lottery for once again funding our camps and for their ongoing support of our preparation strategy. We can now continue our journey towards Rio 2016 with the knowledge that our athletes will have the best possible preparation ahead of the Games and that our presence here will help deliver a wider social legacy.”

The Mayor of Belo Horizonte, Marcio Lacerda, said:

“We are truly honoured that the British Paralympic Association have chosen Belo Horizonte as a pre Games training base ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

“We are currently in the middle of one of the most important moments in our history with the 2014 FIFA World Cup and today’s signing. Alongside the agreement with the BOA, this demonstrates that our city is making its name in the global sporting scene. As a result of these major sporting events, we are able to create a lasting legacy that will benefit our city and our people. Working with the BPA, we have already taken a great step by upgrading our sports and accommodation facilities, making them more accessible to those with disabilities.

“This is yet another great moment for our city and we will ensure that every member of ParalympicsGB and TeamGB are welcomed with passion and respect ensuring that they are provided with the best facilities to help them prepare for Rio 2016.”

Prof. Jaime Arturo Ramirez, on behalf of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, stated:

“The Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais is honoured to receive ParalympicsGB and TeamGB in our facilities. We can provide technical and scientific support to contribute to the teams’ success, during the entire preparation period ahead of Rio 2016. This agreement offers us a great opportunity to enhance our spectrum of academic and scientific cooperation, at an international level, in all fields of sports sciences. We are convinced that the partnership will be fruitful to all parties involved and we will intensively work towards extending our relationship beyond the Games in Rio.”

The President of Minas Tennis Club, Luiz Gustavo Lage, said:

“This moment represent one more step for the partnership between the Minas Tênis Clube, the British Olympic Association and the British Paralympic Association. Integration and legacy will be the key words for these partnerships and they will be maintained beyond Rio 2016. The partnership will emphasize the Club values which are allied with the Olympic and Paralympic values and include education, ethics, friendship, solidarity and fair play.

The challenges are big, but our wish to overcome these challenges is bigger. Our expectations are very big and positive and we believe that they will create a legacy for the Club especially after the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Harry in Belo Horizonte. Ahead of 2016, we will stay very close, and, after the delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, we know that we will continue to develop our relationship with the BOA and the BPA. We are very thankful that Minas Tênis Clube was chosen for this role and the United Kingdom will always be welcome. Thank you for your partnership, you can always count on us.”

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