The Gambia is among six other African nations that could make York their base
as they prepare for the 2012 Olympic Games, Gam Sports-Online reports. Preliminary discussions have taken place between key officials in the Gambian National Olympics Committee (GNOC) and a York and North Yorkshire partnership body for the city to be used as a pre-games camp for ZANOCA (Zonal Association of National Olympic Committee of Africa) Zone II teams. That would mean athletes from Gambia, Senegal, Burkino Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Guinea and Niger using the city and its training facilities as they strive for medals. Although the Olympic dream is yet to be finalised, key partnerships have already been formed between Gambia and the York parties, which include Active York, the Moors and Coast tourism partnership and York St John University. Some 40 coaches and sports scientists from York St John are preparing to visit Gambia in March to run a coaching and training conference for the country’s Olympic Committee to help their preparations for the 2012 games. The possibility of these seven nations coming to York is the culmination of more than three years of work by Ian Ashton, vice chair of the Yorkshire Moors and Coast tourism partnership. He has had meetings with George Gomez, executive director of GNOC, and envisions the 2012 Olympic ambitions as merely part of a much wider project to establish sporting, business and culture links. York has four centres which have been rubber-stamped as viable for 2012 training by the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG). These are Huntington Stadium for track and field, York Community Gymnastics Foundation, University of York for archery and, for basketball, volleyball and fencing, York College.