Warm welcome as first of Kenyan Olympians arrive in city
THE first members of the Kenyan Olympic squad have arrived in Bristol to train ahead of the start of the 2012 games in London.
Sixteen members of the squad received a warm welcome as they arrived at the University of the West of England's Frenchay campus yesterday morning after flying in to Heathrow Airport from the East African country.
The remaining athletes and officials in the 49-strong team are expected to jet in to Britain on Saturday. Their arrival in the city has been delayed due to problems with visas as they were departing Kenya.
Staff and students at UWE cheered, clapped and held aloft mini Kenya flags as the team's coach pulled in to the student village where the team will be spending the next two weeks.
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Weary-looking athletes and officials dressed in red Kenya tracksuit tops and blazers arrived in Bristol at 10.15am under grey skies after a 12-hour journey, which included a wait at Heathrow Airport to register for London 2012 accreditation.
They attended an official welcoming reception last night and were expected to begin their training at the Olympic-standard athletics track at nearby WISE SGS College today.
Kim Chang, London 2012 business leader for the South West, said the Kenyans would train in Bristol until July 16, when they would leave for the Olympic Village in the capital.
The visit has been arranged by the Bristol Kenya Partnership (BKP) with support from UWE, Bristol University, WISE SGS, Bristol City Council and others.
The team staying in Bristol includes runners, two swimmers and a female weightlifter. David Rudisha, world record holder and reigning world champion for the 800m, and Pamela Jelimo, the reigning 800m Olympic champion, will be among them. The country's long distance runners will be staying at altitude in Kenya.
Twice Olympic gold-medal winner Kip Keino, chairman of Kenya's National Olympics Committee, is expected to arrive in Bristol today, when he will receive the Freedom of the City at a special ceremony at the Council House.
UWE's deputy vice-chancellor John Rushforth said: "It is a huge honour to host the Kenyan team. We are delighted that they have chosen to base themselves in Bristol and that we have a chance to build on our various connections with Kenya. We hope their stay at UWE will be a great start to their Olympic ambitions and we will do all we can to make it a success."