Members of Great Britain's Wheelchair Tennis team, including Beijing double Paralympic gold medallist Peter Norfolk, have visited the London 2012 Paralympic Wheelchair Tennis venue at Eton Manor to see first-hand the progress being made on construction.
During the Paralympic Games, Eton Manor will host the Wheelchair Tennis competitions with temporary seating for 10,500 spectators. 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. After the Games, Eton Manor will deliver multi-purpose sport and leisure facilities for the local community.
Steady progress has been made at Eton Manor since construction started in April 2010 and the venue is taking shape. A key challenge in the construction is the transporting, lifting and fixing of eight 40m long beams - the longest single span timber beams in the UK. The beams will form part of the roof of the indoor tennis courts allowing for unobstructed views through the hall. The beams are constructed from PFC certified European Spruce timber and lifted into place using a 35 tonne crane over several weeks.
The timber structure will be complete by Spring 2011 and works remain on schedule to complete the main facilities building by the Autumn. All work will be completed by the beginning of 2012 in time for test events ahead of the Games.
Peter Norfolk and other potential medallists in 2012 enjoyed a tour of the Eton Manor site and the Olympic Park.
Beijing double Paralympic gold medallist Peter Norfolk commented: “Visiting the Eton Manor site really brought the London 2012 Paralympics alive for me and it was amazing to see where I’ll hopefully be competing on Centre Court. I can’t wait to see the finished venue and get out there and play.”
John Armitt, Chairman of the ODA, said: “Eton Manor will be a key venue through the Olympic and Paralympic Games and will be transformed into an important community facility in legacy. It is great that members of the GB Wheelchair Tennis team have had the opportunity to come and see the progress being made on these permanent new sporting facilities for themselves.”
Seb Coe, Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG), said: “I’m thrilled that members of the GB Wheelchair Tennis team were able to see the progress on Eton Manor which will be a first-class facility for Paralympic sport in 2012. There are also great plans for the venue to be used in legacy as a multi-purpose sports centre. This is the first time that a centre has been purpose built for the Wheelchair Tennis event and I am delighted that people will have the opportunity to try out the sport after the Games.”
Tim Reddish, Chairman of ParalympicsGB said: “I’m pleased that some of Britain’s best wheelchair tennis players have had a chance to see Eton Manor. It will provide them with a valuable behind-the-scenes preview of where some of them may be competing for ParalympicsGB in 2012 and will undoubtedly inspire them to train even harder in the coming months to prepare for the Paralympic Games.”
Derrick Ashley, Chairman of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority said: “We are delighted that this important venue is starting to take great shape. Eton Manor is steeped in sporting history and following the Games, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority guarantees to deliver a lasting legacy and sporting opportunities for all. The hockey centre will be of national standing, hosting international competitions alongside a comprehensive community sports development programme, and the tennis centre will provide a tennis development programme for all levels, targeted at local communities in the Lee Valley.
“We are working closely with the national governing bodies to ensure this is aligned with national sports programmes and we look forward to the transformation of Eton Manor (post Games) into a mix of sporting facilities for the local and regional community as well as elite athletes.”
After consultation with the Eton Manor Association, the historic Eton Manor Memorial - a tribute to Eton Manor Club members who fought and died in the First and Second World War - and the Churchill War Memorial were removed from the site at the end of last year to protect them during construction. After the Games, they will be moved to a central location on the Eton Manor site within a new public plaza and garden area in front of the legacy sports facilities.