Stansted Airport is jet set for the 2012 London Olympic Games

STANSTED AIRPORT staff are on track to tackle some of the unique and complex operational challenges they will face in 2012, thanks to the expert help from two of Great Britain s Olympic and Paralympic competitors. As part of the airport s planning program

STANSTED AIRPORT staff are on track to tackle some of the unique and complex operational challenges they will face in 2012, thanks to the expert help from two of Great Britain's Olympic and Paralympic competitors.

As part of the airport's planning programme to deal with the influx of athletes, media and visitors expected to attend the London Games, Alex O'Connell, Team GB's sole fencing representative in Beijing, and Iain Gowans, GB Paralympics team athlete services manager and former Paralympic swimmer, were guest speakers at a one day training session for airport companies and organisations.

The session gave attendees, including handling agents, security teams, police and UK Border Agency, the chance to share in Alex and Iain's experiences travelling to major sporting events, including the Olympics, and to see some of the wide range of specialist kit and equipment competitors will be travelling with as they pass through the airport.

Speaking at the event, Iain Gowans, the man currently responsible for ensuring the GB Paralympic team always gets to its venues around the world, said: "Being an ex-Paralympian myself I know what it's like to travel through airports with lots of unusual and expensive kit. There's not a great deal of knowledge and information out there about the Paralympic Games, so these workshops are vital in helping travel hubs, such as airports, understand what's required when the thousands of athletes and coaches arrive in the UK in 2012.

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"It also enabled us to explain to airport staff just how important this event is for the athletes themselves. They've probably been training for the best part of three years just for the Paralympics. It's a very emotional time; the pinnacle of any athlete's career, so a smooth transition through an airport is essential to keeping stress levels down to a minimum."

Olympian Alex O'Connell, who hails from Brentwood, said after the session: "I was absolutely delighted to have been invited to Stansted to share my experiences with the various teams at the airport. As an athlete who spends a lot of time travelling through airports all over the world, and with lots of kit, I think it's a fantastic idea to bring people together, create a dialogue and plan ahead. By helping staff at the airport now, I can ultimately help competitors and visitors in 2012."

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Julia Gregory, Stansted's Head of Planning and leading the airport's Olympics preparation, added: "Stansted's Olympic plans are already well developed, and the airport is very well versed in dealing with many different operating scenarios, but having expert insight into what further challenges we could face in 2012 enables us to prepare in the right way and stay ahead of the game. Our aim is to deliver an excellent experience for all our airport users and, thanks to the contributions from Alex and Iain, we will now use this additional knowledge and understanding to further improve our levels of customer service.

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