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Construction of New London 2012 Permanent Paralympic Venue Complete


  • Published: 2012-02-11 (Revised/Updated 2012-09-18) : Author: london2012.com
  • Synopsis: 4200 athletes from over 140 countries will be gathering for The London 2012 Paralympic Games with the opening Ceremony on 29 August 2012.

The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) have announced the completion of Eton Manor on the Olympic Park, the venue for Wheelchair Tennis during the Paralympic Games.

Paralympics - The Paralympic games are elite sport events for athletes with a disability. They emphasize, however, the participants' athletic achievements rather than their disability. The Paralympic Games are held in the same year as the Olympic Games.

In just under 200 days time, 4,200 athletes from over 140 countries will be gathering for the largest Paralympic Games ever - bringing the Games back to the country that gave birth to the Paralympic movement in 1948, when Dr Ludwig Guttmann organized a wheelchair archery competition at Stoke Mandeville hospital for 16 World War II soldiers with spinal cord injuries.

Equivalent to hosting 20 World Championships simultaneously, the Games will see 503 medal events across 11 days of competition. An unprecedented one million Paralympic tickets have already been sold, and with the first Paralympic-only Partner in Sainsbury's, and Channel 4 providing more coverage than any previous Games, this summer will be a spectacular showcase for Paralympic sport.

The 10,500 capacity venue at Eton Manor, with distinctive blue courts, is the only new one designed to be used only for Paralympic competition.

112 Paralympic athletes will compete for six medals in Wheelchair Tennis at the Paralympic Games, and during the Olympic Games the venue will provide temporary aquatic training facilities including three Olympic-size swimming pools, a synchronized swimming pool and a water polo pool.

It has been built on the site of an old sports club with Olympic ties. It was the base of the old Eton Manor Sports Club, founded at the beginning of the 20th century, which had Olympians among its former members. Part of the running track used in the last London Olympic Games was transferred there after the 1948 Games.

Demolition of the disused sports hall began in December 2006 and it was the first building on the Olympic Park to be knocked down. Construction began in early 2010.

Seb Coe, LOCOG Chair said: 'With just 200 days to go to the Opening Ceremony on 29 August, we're in great shape for what should be a spectacular summer of Paralympic sport. Wheelchair Tennis has proved to be one of our most popular tickets, and the venue at Eton Manor will be a fantastic setting to showcase some truly world-class athletes.'

Sir John Armitt, ODA Chair said: 'Eton Manor is a stylish new sports facility that will be center stage during the Paralympic Games. It will re-pay every pound of the investment in it by also providing training facilities during the Olympics and then, after the Games, becoming an exciting new center where local people can play sport for decades to come.'

Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport and the Olympics and Paralympics said: 'With only 200 days until the start of the Paralympic Games the excitement is now building. It's fantastic that an unprecedented one million Paralympic tickets have already been sold. I know our British Paralympians are training hard and looking forward to this once in a lifetime chance of competing at the biggest event in disability sport on home soil. I am sure we will put on a Paralympic Games to remember.'

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London said: 'What better way to mark this milestone on the road to the 2012 Paralympic Games than to unveil this fantastic facility. After the Games it will provide a huge boost for Wheelchair Tennis and help provide even more opportunities for disabled Londoners to get active in a really challenging sport.'

Shaun Dawson, Chief Executive of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, which will manage Eton Manor after the Games, said: 'Lee Valley Tennis Center will be an outstanding inclusive regional tennis hub after the Games. We're working closely with the Lawn Tennis Association and Tennis Foundation to ensure that the Center will provide additional opportunities for disabled players across London and are formulating talent identification programs to help uncover the stars of tomorrow and a range of other projects to maximize participation.'

Eton Manor Fact-file:

Games time

During the Paralympic Games, Eton Manor will host the Wheelchair Tennis competitions with temporary seating for 10,500 spectators. There will be nine competition courts and four warm-up courts.

112 Paralympic athletes will compete for six medals in Wheelchair Tennis.

During the Olympic Games, the venue will provide temporary aquatic training facilities including three Olympic-size swimming pools, a synchronized swimming pool and a water polo pool.

Legacy

After the Games, Eton Manor will be owned, funded and managed by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority. It will be home to Lee Valley Tennis Center and Lee Valley Hockey Center, which will accommodate a variety of groups from beginners to elite athletes with extensive community use, outreach and sports development programs.

The main show court surface will be removed after the Games and a water based hockey pitch will be laid for legacy use.

Lee Valley Hockey Center will offer two competition pitches, Lee Valley Tennis Center will have four indoor and six outdoor courts, and provision for five-a-side football pitches. The local community and the wider region will continue to benefit for many years from the long and colorful history of sport on the site.

Construction - started in April 2010

The naturally ventilated main sports building has been built using recycled and sustainable materials wherever possible. The indoor tennis hall is clad with western red cedar and the roof structure incorporates the longest single span glued laminate timber (glulam) beams in the UK, along with polycarbonate roof lights which give dramatic unobstructed views and natural light for the indoor courts.

The blue acrylic surface used to create the nine competition and four warm up outdoor tennis courts was started in July by firstly laying black-top hard surface, the Acrylic surface which can only be laid during the summer months as it is weather dependent, then took just 2 months to finish.

The lightweight steel and aluminum frame and PVC structure built for the Aquatics training pools is the only enclosure of its kind to house three Olympic 50m sized pools in Europe. It was designed and built to be flexible and the pools can be dismantled and split to form smaller pools as required for future use after the Games.

History

The new sporting facilities are on the site of the old Eton Manor Sports Club, which had been disused since 2001. Originally named "The Wilderness" this community sporting facility was founded at the beginning of the 20th century and by the middle of the last century the Eton Manor Boys' Club had gained a reputation as an elite sporting association.

Part of the running track that was used in the last London Olympic Games was transferred there after 1948. Former members include Olympic boxers Harry Mallin (Gold medalist, Middleweight, Antwerp 1920 and Paris 1924), and his brother Fred (fourth, Middleweight, Amsterdam 1928).

There is a war memorial located on the site that is a tribute to Eton Manor Club members who fought and died in the First and Second World Wars. The memorial will be retained and restored as part of the work on the site.

Information about Wheelchair Tennis:

A London 2012 Wheelchair Tennis test event has been confirmed and will be held at Eton Manor on 2-6 May 2012 when Eton Manor will host the International Tennis Federation (ITF) 3 event.

Wheelchair tennis was founded in 1976 when Brad Parks first hit a tennis ball from a wheelchair and realized the potential of this new sport.

Still one of the fastest growing wheelchair sports in the world, wheelchair tennis integrates very easily with the able-bodied game since it can be played on any regular tennis court, with no modifications to the size of the court or the size of rackets or balls.

Wheelchair tennis follows the same rules as able-bodied tennis, as endorsed by the ITF, with the only exception being that the wheelchair tennis player is allowed two bounces of the ball. The 'two-bounce rule' is written into the Rules of Tennis.

Wheelchair tennis also has an international tour. The NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour originated in 1992 with 11 international tournaments, but has grown in size and popularity with currently over 170 events taking place all over the world. To be eligible to compete, a player must have a medically diagnosed permanent mobility related physical disability which must result in a substantial loss of function in one or both lower extremities.

Wheelchair Tennis made its debut at the Paralympics with a demonstration event in Seoul, South Korea in 1988 and made its full debut as a Paralympic sport in Barcelona in 1992 (for men and women).The Quad division (for those with 3 or more limbs affected) was first introduced at the Athens Paralympic games in 2004.

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