The region has five Pre-Games Training Camps confirmed so far, including the Jamaican and American athletics teams who are scheduled to train at the University of Birmingham and Alexander Stadium respectively. The Pakistan hockey team will train at Cannock Hockey Club in Staffordshire, while the Ugandan team are at the University of Warwick and the boxing team from Dominica are in Wolverhampton.
UK medal hopefuls from the region include double Paralympic swimming champion in Beijing Ellie Simmonds, the current World Double Sculls champion who won bronze in Beijing Anna Watkins, cyclist Jess Varnish, and mixed coxed fours world champion in adaptive rowing James Roe.
More than £520 million worth of Olympic Park contracts were won by West Midlands-based businesses, with further benefits cascading down the supply chain. Sixty local businesses have played a role in the construction of the Olympic Park, including providing:
- flooring for the Velodrome,
- structural steelworks for the Aquatics Centre; and
- security fencing for the Olympic Park.
West Midlands businesses are also supplying two of the most iconic items associated with the Games – a company in Telford are supplying the official Games mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville; and a Coventry-based company is creating the 8,000 torches for the Olympic Torch Relay.
There have already been more than 60 locally funded and managed cultural projects officially inspired by London 2012 in the West Midlands, including Dancing for the Games, which involves a range of programmes and activities to help more people to get into dancing across the region.
Among the big cultural highlights planned for 2012 are:
- the UK premieres of Weltethos -an epic peace symphony by Jonathan Harvey, and Gloria by James MacMillan, a choral work written to celebrate Coventry Cathedral’s Golden Jubilee, both to be performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra;
- The Voyage - a free outdoor performance spectacle created by Motionhouse and produced by the Birmingham Hippodrome in Birmingham’s Victoria Square; and
- Mandala - a new collaboration fusing classical and contemporary South Asian dance and music with 3D architectural projection that will take place outside Birmingham Town Hall.
The Olympic Torch will be in the region for seven days, taking in key landmarks like the Iron Bridge and the National Memorial Arboretum and travelling by canal boat and tram at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley.
The Torch Relay will visit over 70 towns, villages and cities across the West Midlands, and will include major evening celebrations in Worcester (24 May), Stoke-on-Trent (30 May), Birmingham (30 June) and Coventry (1 July).
The Torch Relay is recognised as a significant opportunity to showcase different parts of the UK, with the Government working with VisitEngland and the regional tourism organisations to attract more visitors from home and abroad.
Attractions in the West Midlands include:
- Culture – it is the home of world-renowned writers, from Shakespeare to Samuel Johnson, JR Tolkien to George Eliot, while the £112 million redevelopment of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and the £20 million refurbishment of Coventry’s Herbert Art Gallery is further enhancing its cultural assets. There’s also the Wedgwood Museum in Stoke, with its fine ceramic collection; the Symphony Hall in Birmingham, one of the best places in the country for classical music; and the award-winning Compton Verney art gallery in Warwickshire.
- History – the West Midlands is scattered with renowned castles and keeps, such as Kenilworth, Warwick, Ludlow and Tamworth. The Black Country is the home of Britain’s industrial revolution, reflected in the iconic Iron Bridge Gorge or the Black Country Living Museum. It also has the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, or Coventry’s Transport Museum showing the region’s strong links with the automotive industry.
- Architecture – the West Midlands has two of the UK’s finest cathedrals: Coventry, which was voted the nations favourite 20th century building and recognised internationally as a World Centre for Peace and Reconciliation; and Hereford dating back to before the 8th century, currently undergoing a £5 million renovation project, and home to the Mappa Mundi.
- Nature – the West Midlands is a region of significant natural beauty with the Cotswolds, Staffordshire Peak District and Monkey Forest at Trentham Estate.
Find more information on the West Midlands as a place to visit.