IPC event brings $12m to Canterbury

Last updated 05:00 31/01/2011
Pedro Mezaz
KIRK HARGREAVES/The Press
THIRSTY BUSINESS: Pedro Mezaz from Mexico takes a drink during the men's marathon.

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The International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships have injected about $12 million into the Canterbury economy, organisers say.

The 10-day event finished in Christchurch yesterday with an action-packed marathon around the streets of New Brighton.

More than 1000 athletes, 900 officials and 600 supporters from 70 countries converged on the city, some for up to four weeks.

Organiser Neil Blanchfield, who spent two years planning the event, said he was "tremendously pleased".

"It's been a fair challenge, but we've had a really good team working on the event," he said.

The estimated $12m economic spinoff was a "nice little boost" for Christchurch after the recession and earthquakes, Blanchfield said.

He expected this year's Rugby World Cup to be more lucrative.

"A lot of people came here on a shoestring [budget] and in some cases there wasn't much to spend in the shops.

"[RWC] will have much more wealthy clients," he said.

About 2500 visitors will have left Christchurch by tomorrow.

Managing the departures was the final challenge after many sleepless nights, Blanchfield said.

"The airlines have asked us to pick them up four hours before their flights because they've got so much luggage.

"When one person's got a bit of luggage it's fine, but when there's 44 Ukrainians with say 33 wheelchairs, it's a big ask."

Christchurch handled the event exceptionally well despite small crowds, Blanchfield said.

"A lot of people probably look at paralympic sports as a bunch of people with disabilities running around and everyone claps, but these were far above that.

" It's disappointing that people didn't take the time."

Paralympics New Zealand board member Marc Frewin said the quality of competition was high.

"There were so many world records [broken] and so many champions.

"That race with [Oscar] Pistorius and [Jerome] Singleton in the [T44] 100 metres final was just spine-tingling," he said. "You just don't get excitement like that any better."

Feedback from the IPC had been positive, Frewin said.

"This is the first time it's been out of Europe and there was a lot of focus globally on small little New Zealand.

"I think yet again we've stepped and punched above our weight.

"We've had a lot of interest from NPCs [national paralympic committees] saying, `If the Kiwis can do it, then maybe we can too'."

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- The Press

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