Gold medallist farewells QEII

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 06:37 25/11/2012
tayler
GOODBYE: Commonwealth Games gold medallist Dick Tayler last week bid farewell to QEII.

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An athlete who made his name at Christchurch's Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Park will be the last to ever set foot on the track.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Dick Tayler last week bid farewell to the sports venue where he claimed his famous 10,000 metres victory in 1974.

Demolition of earthquake- damaged QEII began in April and the final sections of the building were levelled this month.

Tayler could see one bright side during his final walk around the stadium remains. "I can say I'll always hold that track record."

Mainzeal site manager Chris Fox, who was brought in from Ireland to supervise the complex demolition, said even he, a non- Cantabrian, had a strong sense of what had been lost.

"I really sympathise with the people around here. It's a real body-blow to the eastern suburbs," he said.

One of Fox's staff members remembered sitting in seat No 8 in 1974 and asked if he could keep it.

"I got him the blue seat and he was really chuffed about it," he said.

Fox specialised in stadia construction, but was working "in reverse" for the first time.

QEII's design, especially having the indoor and outdoor areas share a common wall, was "ground- breaking" at the time.

"It was a very unique building in its day, to be fair," he said.

The 50-metre pool was still to be removed, along with sections of the track. About 87 per cent of the material had been recycled, with only the polystyrene insulation proving difficult to dispose of.

Most of the salvaged goods, such as sports equipment and building materials, were donated to Christchurch schools and community groups.

The site will be left as a park when work is expected to finish in February. Concrete hardfill will be used to level the ground, before being topped with soil and grass.

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