China sending team to Birmingham

Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 February 2006, 13:18 GMT

China is sending a team to the Norwich Union International athletics meeting in Birmingham this summer.
It is unusual for the 2008 Olympic hosts to send teams to sporting events outside of major championships.

Organisers are attempting to elevate the status of the tournament, which has increased prize money and is the richest of its kind in the world.

China will compete against Great Britain, Russia and the USA at the match over the weekend of 19-20 August.

UK Athletics chief executive David Moorcroft was delighted that China has accepted an invitation to appear at the event at the city’s Alexander Stadium.

“British athletes continually strive to be the best in the world and therefore it was important that we invited the very best athletics nations to Birmingham,” he said.

The news was also welcomed by Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby who is running a task force to try to persuade teams to use the city as a base for the London Olympics in 2012.

He said the event would be good preparation for the city’s plans to host the European Indoor Athletics Championships in March 2007.