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Jamaica stars Brum-bound; LONDON 2012: Usain Bolt and Co accept Whitby offer.

Byline: Neil Elkes

THE family of the world's fastest man Usain Bolt have been promised the red carpet treatment when they visit Birmingham.

City Council leader Mike Whitby has told the Jamaican athlete's mother Jennifer she will be his special guest when she visits the city next week. And his cricket-mad brother Sadeeki has been invited on a VIP tour of Edgbaston Cricket Ground when he visits England.

The pledge came as Coun Whitby sealed the deal for the Jamaican track and field team to base their training camp in Birmingham before the 2012 London Olympics.

It means that triple Olympic gold medallist Bolt and his team-mates including fellow sprint champion Asafa Powell will be warming up for the 2012 Games at Alexander Stadium.

The Tory council chief has spent two days in Berlin meeting giants of international athletics before this weekend's World Athletics Championships.

And, as revealed in the Birmingham Mail yesterday, it was during those talks with the Jamaican sports officials that Coun Whitby met Bolt. He expected to set the foundations for a deal but went a stage further.

An elated Coun Whitby said: "Usain is fastest out of the blocks on the track, and Birmingham has proved fastest out of the blocks in securing the Jamaican track and field training camp.

"We have a large Caribbean and Jamaican community in Birming-haand this deal will build on those close links. We have agreed on a series of events leading up to 2012 to enrich and strengthen that relationship.

"I have met Usain, who is an impressive athlete, and promised his family a warm welcome when they visit Birmingham."

Jamaican Amateur Athletic Association president Howard Aris confirmed an agreement had been reached after only two days of talks.

Aris said: "Birmingham representatives came to Jamaica earlier this year and we've been very impressed with what the city has to offer. So I'm delighted to announce that the Jamaica Track and Field team will be using Birmingham as their training location in 2012."


It's a deal: Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby with Jamaican track star Usain Bolt in Berlin yesterday.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Aug 15, 2009
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