The University of Bath has formally signed a wide-ranging reciprocal sports and academic agreement with Malaysia that will include covering the build-up to the 2012 Olympic Games and 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the Malaysian Government through the Malaysian National Sports Institute (ISN) in a ceremony at the University of Bath’s Sports Training Village.

Malaysian athletes will train at the University of Bath across a range of sports in the build-up to both the London 2012 Olympic Games and to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The reciprocal arrangement means that some Bath-based athletes could also have the opportunity to train in Malaysia.

The University expects the announcement with Malaysia to be the first building block for its involvement with the London Olympics with further nations also expected to choose Bath as their training base ahead of 2012.

The event is the latest touch of Olympic excitement for Bath, which is still gripped by the success of Amy Williams at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. It comes just days after Amy returned to her University training base with the skeleton gold medal she won in Canada.

Professor Glynis Breakwell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bath, signed the Memorandum of Understanding along with Dato’ Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz, Director General of the ISN, at a ceremony attended by the Honourable Dato’ Razali Ibrahim, Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports.

Professor Breakwell was delighted to see the signing of the agreement, she said: “The University of Bath prides itself on its international outlook and profile, and on the strong collaborations it builds across the globe.

“Over a quarter of students who choose to study at the University of Bath come from outside the UK,” she added. “This is a wide-ranging agreement not only for 2012 but also beyond to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.”

The Honourable Dato’ Razali Ibrahim, Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, said the agreement is wider than sport.

He said: “I’m looking forward to mutual work between the two parties. We will share whatever we can.

“For Malaysian students this is a good university as far as sports are concerned, but education and sports play a close relationship. You can be a good sportsperson but you also need to have a good education.”

Dato’ Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz, Director General of the ISN, said: “This is an exciting day. It presents a great opportunity for our athletes to be on a strong footing for the London Olympics. It will enhance our preparations, which will give us better prospects of better outcomes.”

Stephen Baddeley, the new Director of Sport at the University of Bath, said: “We have the most vibrant and dynamic training village in the country here in Bath. Having the Malaysian Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams here will add to that environment.

“Sport is the foundation, but it is only the starting point for a much wider relationship.”

Caryn Hoh May Ling, Chair of the University of Bath’s Malaysian and Singaporean Society, said: “On behalf of Malaysian students in Bath I would like to express how excited we are at having the Malaysian team training in Bath. I feel at home in Bath, it’s a really friendly place. Hopefully the national team will feel at home here and enjoy their time here too. I’m sure they will.”

After the signing the Malaysian delegation toured some of the outstanding sports facilities at the University that will be used by Malaysian athletes. Among the athletes expected to use the facilities will be Malaysia’s badminton players, who are ranked among the best in the world.

The delegation watched badminton, netball and rhythmic gymnastics training sessions in the main sports hall, a judo session in the dojo and visited the fitness suite.

They met Jan Bartu, Pentathlon GB’s Performance Director at Pentathlon GB’s high performance centre at the University and also visited the School for Health’s biomechanics laboratories.

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