Arena is proving draw for top stars

TOP level sport continues to be attracted to Worcester due to the ever-growing profile of the University Arena.

Since the Hylton Road venue first opened its doors 18 months ago, it has hosted an array of national and international events.

As well as being home to the successful Worcester Wolves, who secured a British Basketball League play-off and Trophy double last season, the arena has staged two netball Superleague grand finals and a range of basketball tournaments.

This week has seen Great Britain’s men’s wheelchair team involved in a three-team continental clash, while the able-bodied GB women’s team launch their 2015 EuroBasket qualification campaign against Belgium on Sunday.

The venue is already used as a base for the GB wheelchair basketball squads but has now been signed up as the training home for both the able-bodied sides.

It will also stage two friendly matches between GB men and Latvia on July 19 and 20.

Mick Donovan, head of the university’s institute of sport and exercise science, said: “When we created the venue, basketball and wheelchair basketball were focus sports.

“Even when we had the St John’s sports centre we always worked really hard to get elite athletes here. Now we’re equipped with a state-of-the-art facility it’s ideal for us.

“The women did very well in the Olympics in London so for them to be here for a place in the European Championships is fantastic.”

He continued: “It’s a fantastic training venue but also a performance venue as well so the teams don’t need to go somewhere else.

“It may not be the biggest in the world but it’s certainly one of the best designs for athletes and teams because we put them first.”

Sinead Gordon, head of basketball operations at British Basketball, added: “The University of Worcester provides GB Basketball with a top-class facility and support network in areas such as performance analysis, fitness, strength and conditioning that are second to none in meeting the requirements of a high-performance Olympic sport like basketball.”

On top of basketball and netball, the arena has also hosted the national boccia championships and later this month will stage the Tae kwon-do Midlands Championships.

Arena manager April White said: “With the Wolves, we expected to have a pretty full programme in place but we never could have imagined it being so popular and having the reach it has into all of the different sports, both able-bodied and disability.

“Because the venue is so versatile and we can change it around, everybody is flocking here – it’s fantastic. We’re really pleased with what we’ve accomplished.”

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