Games heroes toast of city
Kiwi Olympic gold medallist Jo Aleh has postponed a family holiday to attend a welcome-home event in Christchurch.
The sailor had planned to meet family in Israel after London, but returned for today's team celebration at the Pioneer Recreation and Sport Centre at noon because of the "commitment and positivity" shown by Cantabrians after the earthquakes.
"Christchurch has been through so much, and I am truly amazed by how tough everyone has been," Aleh said.
All five members of the bronze medal-winning equestrian eventing team returned from Britain to attend the celebration, which was moved from Hagley Park because of wet weather.
More than 80 Olympic athletes, including 23 of the 27 medallists, will take part.
Newly crowned Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams is competing in Europe, while cyclists Jesse Sergent and Sam Bewley, who won bronze in the team pursuit, have international team commitments.
Many Christchurch schools have left it up to parents to decide whether children can attend the event.
Isleworth School principal Jeanette Shearer said the school would allow pupils to go if they asked, but none had.
Belfast School principal Peter Simpson said the venue change meant its pupils would not be attending.
"We were while it was at Hagley Park to coincide with Friday sport, but with the change in venue we decided it wasn't going to be feasible," he said.
There will be standing room for about 700 members of the public in the stadium. The remainder will be able to watch the ceremony on a large screen in the nearby park.
Fans will be able to take on athletes in hockey, volleyball, athletics, football and inflatable boxing.
Single-sculler Emma Twigg will compete on the rowing machine, cyclist Alison Shanks on the bike and boxer Cameron Todd will don the gloves in the ring.
Medallists Lisa Carrington, Mark Todd and Mahe Drysdale will travel to nearby Centennial Park to sign autographs, have photographs taken and answer questions. Other Olympians will visit fans at schools, hospitals, care facilities and businesses.
Equestrian team members Andrew Nicholson and Jock Paget will also take three short lessons with national squad members Emily Cammock and Annabel Wigley, and leading local rider Katie Rankin, at the National Equestrian Centre at McLeans Island from 9am. The duo will return to McLeans Island with Todd, Jonelle Richards and Caroline Powell at 2.30pm to take part in a panel discussion, question time and open afternoon tea.
Medal-winning BMX rider Sarah Walker will be at Merrin School.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Would you like to see a bike-share scheme in Christchurch?Related story: Free bikes plan for Christchurch