Paralympic gold medal-winning swimmer and BT Ambassador Liz Johnson has laid the final tile in the Aquatics Centre competition pool to mark 500 days to go until the London 2012 Paralympic Games opening ceremony.
The Paralympic breaststroke hopeful visited the London 2012 Aquatics Centre for the first time and laid the last of 180,000 tiles lining the 50m competition and training pools and the dive pool. The competition and diving pools, complete with moveable floors and separation booms for legacy, will now be filled with millions of litres of water. The 50m training pool has already been filled and the moveable floors and separation booms tested.
The Aquatics Centre ‘big build’ is on track to complete as planned this summer in time for test events ahead of the Games. The curved pool ceiling lined with over 30,000 individual sections of Red Lauro timber is complete, the two 1,600 tonne temporary seating stands that will boost the venue with 17,500 seats for the Games are structurally complete and wrapped with seats about to be fitted. The bespoke curved concrete dive tower, with six dive boards, is complete and almost 600,000 tiles have been laid in the pools, poolsides and changing rooms.
With a unique 160m long wave-shaped roof the Zaha Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre will be the main ‘Gateway into the Games' and second biggest venue on the Olympic Park, hosting Swimming, Diving, Synchronised Swimming and the Swimming discipline of the Modern Pentathlon. After the Games it will become a 2,500 capacity venue providing two 50m swimming pools with moveable floors and separation booms, a diving pool and dry diving area for the full range of community and elite use.
ODA Chief Executive Dennis Hone said: “The Aquatics Centre is on track to be a great sporting stage for the world’s best athletes in 2012. After the Games it will become a fantastic new flexible and accessible facility for swimmers and divers of all ages and abilities.”
Liz Johnson said: “With just 500 days of training and preparation to go until the Paralympic Games open it’s great to see first-hand where I hope to be competing and to play a very small part in building it. You can really imagine what the atmosphere will be like in 500 days time in such a fantastic venue. I can’t wait to compete at the Aquatics Centre in front of thousands of fans and it’s great that it will be available for everyone to use once the Games have finished.”
Hugh Robertson, Olympics Minister said: “Good progress has been made in delivering this iconic and complex venue. With the tiles down and the water going in, the Aquatics Centre will soon be the third venue on the Park to be complete.”
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "This awesome building will provide the perfect setting for the world’s best swimmers to battle it out for gold, silver and bronze in 2012 and long into the future. With the likes of Paralympic athletes Liz Johnson and Ellie Simmonds competing next summer, I am sure that the cheers from the home crowds will be loud enough to raise the wave-shaped roof."
Andrew Altman, Chief Executive of the Olympic Park Legacy Company, said: “We have already had a positive response in the first stages of looking for an operator to turn this iconic building into a much needed centre to be enjoyed by families, clubs and community groups after the 2012 Games. Its two 50m pools and a 25m diving pool, all with moveable floors, will also provide elite swimmers with a world class facility and encourage the next generation of swimmers to follow in their footsteps.”