November 16 - Hotel chain Holiday Inn have today introduced a programme offering 1,500 free nights to 50 emerging and established British athletes including Olympic champions such Rebecca Adlington, Tim Brabants, Victoria Pendleton and Christine Ohuruogu as they prepare for the London 2012 Games.
The athletes aiming for medal success in London will be given free overnight stays over the next two years at hotels across the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) brand family wherever they are in the world.
The IHG brand family includes Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.
The athletes, their support teams and their families can use the stays at any time while they are training and competing or during rest and recovery.
Brabants (pictured), the sprint kayaker who won gold at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, admitted the project will be a huge benefit for athlete performances.
The 33-year-old from Chertsey, who recently returned to his sport after taking time off following his Olympic success to practice medicine, told insidethegames: "This unique programme is going to be a huge benefit for us athletes.
"Sometimes people forget how much athletes have to travel in a year to train and compete so having this support from Holiday Inn will be a huge benefit for us as we know that it is a quality brand where you are guaranteed a decent rest wherever you are in the world.
"It will probably be my coaching team and family who use the rooms more often than me and that will be great because then they can travel with me more often and help me to perform to the best of my ability.
"There have been times in the past, like at the Sydney 2000 Games, when I haven't had the best preparation.
"Once instance involved me having to sit on a plastic chair for a long period of time shortly before a race which obviously isn't ideal preparation but this Holiday Inn programme guarantees us comfort and the peace of mind to know that we would have had the best preparation before an event and that is crucial."
Paralympic stars such as double Beijing 2008 specialist Shelly Woods and congenital double leg amputee marathon specialist Richard Whitehead will also be part of the programme.
Other athletes benefiting include BMX world champion Shanaze Reade and gymnastics hopeful Becky Downie while in return for hotel rooms, participating athletes will provide unique experiences for Holiday Inn staff.
They will also help to promote Holiday Inn's role as Official Hotel Provider to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Sir Clive Woodward, the Director of Sport at the British Olympic Association (BOA), said: "All athletes understand the importance of a good night's sleep as part of their training regime.
"Less well known but I feel just as important is being surrounded by their family and support team when training and competing.
"Athletes spend a huge amount of time away from home each year and travelling alone puts extra pressure on them to achieve world class performances.
"As London 2012 approaches athletes must not compromise in their preparations. Knowing that wherever they are in the world they can be supported by their families and coaches will give the athletes the confidence to perform at their best without worrying about the cost of travel."
Sacha Clark, spokesperson for Holiday Inn, added: "Holiday Inn will host British athletes at hotels around the world during the next two years and in return they will help inspire our people.
"We're committed to doing all we can to support the British team in their preparations for London 2012 and it's great that our hotels can be actively involved in this way."
In the build-up to the Games, Holiday Inn will be using their hospitality expertise to assist London 2012 in their preparations and be providing residential managers, receptionists and concierges.
The hotel chain will also be employ a number of aspiring Olympic and Paralympic athletes on a flexible basis at hotels in the lead up to the Games in order to help athletes to build their work experience and earn money while they train and compete.
As Official Hotel Provider to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Holiday Inn will support the Olympic Torch Relay by hosting the team as they travel around the UK and provide free accommodation for London 2012 staff and other organising bodies in hotels across London in the lead up to, during, and after the Games.
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