23 of 27 Olympic medallists coming to Chch
Eric Murray, Lisa Carrington, Mahe Drysdale and Sarah Walker are some of the Olympians confirmed for Christchurch's welcome-home event on Friday.
New Zealand Olympic Committee spokeswoman Ashley Abbott said 23 of the 27 medallists would attend the welcome home.
Newly crowned Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams will miss the event because she is competing in Europe, and former Christchurch rider Caroline Powell, who won a bronze medal as part of the equestrian team, will not be in the country.
Cyclists Jesse Sergent and Sam Bewley, who won bronze in the team pursuit, are not coming because of international team commitments.
Abbott said: "It's an outstanding response from New Zealand's medallists ... Some have changed their plans to come back."
On Friday, more than 100 Kiwi Olympic competitors will fly into Christchurch and ride an open-top double-decker bus to the Pioneer Recreation and Sport Centre in Spreydon for the homecoming.
Abbott said the medallists had agreed that Christchurch deserved to host the event as the city had been through so much.
The event was to have been held in South Hagley Park but the heavy rain that pelted Christchurch last week has made the park unusable.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said hosting the event was a coup after the devastating blow of losing the Rugby World Cup games last year.
"We are very proud to have been chosen to host the homecoming on behalf of all New Zealand, and we're looking forward to cheering for our heroes in person."
He said the selection recognised what Christchurch was up against. "It's an act of great generosity towards the people of this city."
Parker said the Olympians had all faced major challenges but were disciplined enough to stay on course to achieve their goals and deliver medals for New Zealand.
It was "a wonderful metaphor" for what Christchurch was going through, he said.
"We are in the midst of the biggest challenge that we have ever faced. We have a lot to do to get there. We have to stay on the course ... and we are going to deliver a wonderful city," he said.
The team will arrive at the Pioneer Recreation and Sport Centre at noon to the sounds of the New Zealand Army Band before a short ceremony.
After the ceremony, the Olympians will move to nearby Centennial Park to sign autographs, have photos taken, answer questions and compete against fans in various activities, including hockey, volleyball, athletics, football and inflatable boxing.
There will be competitions, interactive games and music, including performances from the New Zealand Army Band.
Christchurch City Council acting recreation and sport manager Kevin Collier said about 40 athletes would visit fans at private events for about an hour after the official welcome home.
The athletes would be split between the Burwood Spinal Unit, Merrin School, Ronald McDonald House, the Anthony Wilding Retirement Village, Daffodil House, IHC Vocational Services, Te Kure Whakapumua, Richmond New Zealand Trust Ltd, the children's ward at Christchurch Hospital and Christchurch Women's Hospital.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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