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London bid wins Skills Olympics

History does repeat itself: once again London has beaten a French bid to earn the right to host the Olympics.

This time, it is the Skills Olympics which will come to the capital in 2011, after Nantes' bid was withdrawn before the final decision on Tuesday in Melbourne.

Sweden and Australia also bid for the biennial event, formally known as the World Skills Competition, in which apprentices from 40 countries compete in skills including bricklaying, hairdressing, car repair and landscape gardening.

Phil Hope, the skills minister, said: "It's a brilliant bid. It's going to have a massive impact on attitudes and the way we value skills. These are competitions on a global scale. The pressure is now on."

London's bid succeeded with the help of the same company that was behind the emotional presentation to win the 2012 Olympics.

It played heavily on the athletics' bid success and featured weightlifters staggering under the burden of car-wheels on axles and gymnasts vaulting over carpenters' workbenches.

Last year, the UK came 11th in the World Skills Competition, achieving a world-class benchmark score for the first time, a gold medal and two silver medals.

Mr Hope said organisers were revamping the local and regional selection process to improve performances over the next two competitions.

He said: "The competition has a fantastic impact. Andrew Blair, from Northern Ireland, who won the gold medal, has become a hero in his area and applications locally for things like engineering have gone through the roof."

The Government will provide pound;11 million for the competition, due to be held in the ExCel centre in Docklands, with businesses finding a matching amount.

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