Elite sporting teams call Gold Coast home ahead of Olympic Games

Maggie Gray | July 5, 2021

Aussie Sharks squad pre-Tokyo training camp at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre

The Gold Coast has emerged as an Olympic preparation hub with elite sporting teams from Australia and beyond setting up training camps across the city.

The city’s status as an international sporting destination stems off the back of the 2018 Commonwealth Games which saw more than 6,600 athletes and officials from 71 Commonwealth nations and territories converge on the Gold Coast for one of the largest elite multi-sport events in the world.

From the enviable coastal location and natural environment to the diverse range of venues and training facilities, the Gold Coast has all the ingredients of a global sporting city.

New Zealand Canoe Racing Technical Director, Gordon Walker, said the women’s kayaking team had selected the Gold Coast as their pre-Tokyo training base to capitalise on one of the city’s key natural assets.

“For us as kayakers, the main thing we need is a really good place to paddle, and the canals and waterways here are amazing,” says Walker.

“You can do all sorts of types of training here – short paddle, long paddle, sprints.


“There’s lots of different places around the world which cater to specific types of training, but not all of them can cater to everything you need, like the Gold Coast can.


“We’re lucky to be able to train in and around the Lake Orr area, where the Aussie men’s sprint team is based. We’ve also been using the gym at the Bond University High Performance Training Centre which is a phenomenal facility.

“We’d like to come back next year for sure. Our next decision might be about setting up a base here – there are just such good facilities.”


Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre, Carrara

Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, Southport

Lake Orr, Robina
Image: Bond University Marketing


Other squads currently training on the Gold Coast before heading to Tokyo include the New Zealand Athletics and Triathlon teams. Several national teams are also calling the Gold Coast home ahead of the Games, with the Australian Athletics, Paddle, BMX Freestyle, Boxing, Badminton and Water Polo teams based out of the city too.

Water Polo Australia Chief Executive Officer Richard McInnes said the City’s world-class aquatic facilities and climate were significant factors which impacted the team’s decision to relocate to the Gold Coast.

“The Gold Coast has great weather particularly through winter, so to be able to train outdoors in the sun, is great for the mental health of a group that has faced plenty of challenges with the delayed Olympics and the ongoing challenges around Covid,” said McInnes.

“The Gold Coast Aquatic Centre facility is brilliant for this type of camp – with the gym and pool co-located and accommodation so close.

“The mood around the camp was great. The team and staff where looking forward to it and it showed in how well they trained, which is so important at this time leading into the Olympics.

“If we have them in the right mindset, they train better, and they perform better which is what we are after.”



In 2013, the City developed the Sport Attraction Program, tasked with elevating the Gold Coast’s global profile as a world-class sporting destination.

Since its inception, the program has secured numerous elite sporting camps, exhibition games and major sporting events – attracting athletes and spectators from all over Australia and beyond.

In 2021, the City has hosted the Australian Gymnastics Championships, the Allan Bell Open with Muaythai Australia, the Wheelchair Rugby National Championships, and the Australian Swimming Championships.

More than 2,300 swimmers competed at the Australian Swimming Championships at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre in April, making it one of the world’s largest sporting events, by the number of athletes competing, since the pandemic restricted major sport events last year.

Research undertaken by the City determined sport contributes approximately $747 million to the Gold Coast economy annually, based on direct and indirect contribution from events, players, spectators and local workers.

This economic impact has grown on the back of the success of staging the 2018 Commonwealth Games, as well as the city’s budding reputation as a Covid-safe sporting city – acting as the season saviour for the AFL and NRL in 2020.

Later this year, the city will also host the 2021 World Bowls Championship, UniSport Nationals, and the Pan Pacific Masters Games.

Keep up to date with all things Gold Coast and subscribe here.