Olympic Rowing Star to Step Out in Queen Street Golden Mile
Olympic Rowing Legend to Step Out in Queen Street
Olympians Mahe Drysdale and Juliette Haigh looking forward to the challenge of the Queen Street Golden Mile.
Tuesday 26 February, 2013: Auckland’s Queen Street Golden Mile on Easter Monday has received a big boost with the confirmation that 2012 Olympic single scull rowing gold medal winner Mahe Drysdale will be a definite starter.
The man who has been such a dominant force on the water, claiming 5 world single scull crowns and an Olympic gold, doesn’t expect to cause any ripples on the road. “I’ll be very much out of my comfort zone” he says, “but it’s for a great cause and to support one of New Zealand’s true Olympic greats.”
Drysdale and his partner Juliette Haigh, who won a bronze medal in the women’s pair at London, have agreed to make up the rowing team in the ‘Clash of the Codes’ at the Queen Street Golden Mile, which has been reprised - after a 30-year absence - by Sir John Walker’s FIND YOUR FIELD OF DREAMS Foundation.
The Radio Sport ‘Clash of the Codes’ challenge is one of the feature races planned for athletes across a range of demographics. There will be about 16 races spread over four hours, including juniors, veterans, over 20s, a corporate team event, an Auckland Citizens mile - open to anyone over the age of 16 - culminating in an elite men’s and women’s mile.
The Olympic pair is challenging other London Olympians from various sports to make up teams and join then in a dash down Queen Street. Mahe, who has taken a six month sabbatical from rowing and Juliette who has retired from competitive rowing, are already sounding out other sporting stars to step up for the mile.
Just days after completing the gruelling 240km Coast to Coast event which he conceded was “the toughest thing I’ve ever done,” Drysdale won the Sportsman of the Year category at the Halberg Awards for the fourth time. Later this week he will be among the sporting celebrities lining up at the NZPGA golf tournament, at The Hills course near Queenstown. Then it is back into heavy mileage to prepare for the Port Macquarie Ironman on May 5.
While he concedes the Queen Street Golden Mile was not on his bucket list, for this year, the chance to post a registered time for the mile, while being cheered all the way by crowds of people lining both sides of Queen Street, “could be a great buzz, Juliette is already in serious training for it.”
Last held in 1983, the return of the Queen Street Golden Mile is a John Walker Find Your Field of Dreams Foundation (FYFOD) initiative. The aim is to provide athletes young and old the chance to run in the footsteps of champions and, at the same time, generate some revenue to support the work of the Foundation. More details are at www.queenstreetmile.co.nz
FYFOD Chief Executive Craig Pollock is delighted the Olympic pair has signed up for the ‘Clash of the Codes’ event. “Having athletes with the profile of Mahe and Juliette agree to take part is a real bonus, he says. We are already in talks with other athletes from rugby, league and cricket and expect Mahe and Juliette will be the catalysts to bring some other big name sports stars out for the mile.”
Mr Pollock is also appealing for any sports enthusiasts who would “like the chance to run down Queen Street without fear of prosecution and get a registered time for a mile, with a certificate to prove it” to go to the website and sign up for the Auckland Citizen’s Mile. “It is an ideal opportunity for families, friends, sports and social teams to get together and run the mile. Anyone over the age of 16 is eligible.”
The Queen Street Mile has the support of Mayor Len Brown as well as Auckland Council, Athletics Auckland and the NZ Olympic Committee.
All the races will
start at the Queen St/Mayoral Drive intersection with
athletes racing to the bottom of Queen Street, across
Customs and Quay Streets, finishing on Queen’s Wharf.
More details about the Queen Street Golden Mile are at www.queenstreetmile.co.nz