Jayant Mistry, Wheelchair Tennis Manager for LOCOG, celebrates 200 days to go
On the eve of 200 days to go to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the London Organising 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.
In just 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 organised 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 synchronised 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 centre 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 centre 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 Centre 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 Centre will provide additional opportunities for disabled players across London and are formulating talent identification programmes to help uncover the stars of tomorrow and a range of other projects to maximise participation.'