south africa_flag_17-11-11November 3 - The South African team will be based in Twickenham for their pre-Olympic training camps ahead of the 2012 Games in London, they announced today.

The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) put together a task team in July which decided the athletes would be based at St Mary's University College and the Lensbury Club, and will also make use of sports clubs in the area.

South Africa's team of 156 picked up only one medal at the 2008 Beijing Games - through long jump silver medallist Khotso Mokoena - but Sascoc have set their sights on a hefty 12 medals in London.

Gideon Sam, the President of SASCOC, said:  "In line with all our planning for the 2012 Games and the run-in to London it's absolutely critical that we quickly identify the areas where we are going to train.

"It's important that we get the support structures in place and also build and maintain sporting relationships in England that will benefit our athletes both pre and post 2012.

"I must say that in the run-up to the 2012 Games its fantastic that we were able to identify a training camp venue so early on.

"It's very important that we do it right and get the athletes into the international atmosphere at an early stage and let them get used to their surroundings.

"They must be exposed to the international set- up.

"At the Beijing Olympics it was quite an eye-opener and I think some of the athletes were a bit overawed.

"Hopefully these kind of camps will be a great help."

Ezera Tshabangu, SASCOC's general manager for high performance and project manager for 2012, said they were also planning a camp with the provisional squad for 2011 when they would visit the actual competition venues for 2012.

St Mary's (pictured) is located on the banks of the River Thames -  ten miles from central London - and is self-contained campus, situated in Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, a leafy part of the capital.

Several of Britain's leading athletes are based there, including Mo Farah, the country's top male distance runner, and Stephanie Twell, the world junior 1500 metres champion who is considered a potential contender for a gold medal at London 2012.

The Lensbury Club, which is owned by Shell and is set in 25 acres on the banks of the Thames, has facilities for several sports, including tennis.

Sebastian Coe, the chairman of London 2012, said: "This is great news for St Mary's University College and its partners.

"These facilities will help South African athletes train and prepare well for the London Games.

"It also gives St Mary's and other world-class clubs in the area a chance to get involved in our plans in many different ways and feel the excitement of the Games."

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