A group of young African athletes have been getting to grips with rain and chilly winds in the northern French town of Calais, before heading off to compete in the Olympic Games accross the water in London.
The athletes, mainly sprinters, from Burkina Faso, Chad, Senegal, Niger and Cote d’Ivoire were invited to train at the top level pre-Olympic training camps in the Pas de Calais region.
While most, like Albertine N’Dikert, Chad’s 100m women’s record holder, got their qualifying times, a few others have been invited to participate in line with the Olympic spirit which likes to see as many countries represented as possible.
The delegation was brought over by the Conference of Youth and Sports Ministers of Countries using French as a Common Language (Confejes), which promotes sport in francophone African countries.
Pas de Calais region then offered all its training facilities, plus accommodation, for free.
« It’s close to London, the weather’s the same, the facilities are very good, so it’s good for me, good for the athletes and good for results, » says George Dias, the Cuban coach accompanying the Confejes delegation. “We’re very grateful.”
In total around fifty delegations from all over the world have opted to train in the Pas de Calais region - a good deal calmer and cheaper than London just one hour away.