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Stars Step Out to Honour Olympic Legend

Stars Step Out to Honour Olympic Legend at Aut Queen Street Golden Mile on Monday

Friday 29 March, 2013: Some rock stars of New Zealand sport are stepping out of their comfort zone in Auckland on Easter Monday, all for a good cause and as a tribute to one of this country’s favourite sporting sons.

Three New Zealand Olympic gold medal winners, Mahe Drysdale, Jo Aleh and Hamish Carter are among a select group of 10 international Kiwi athletes lining up in the Clash of the Codes event at the AUT Queen Street Golden Mile (QSGM).
Last held 30 years ago, the QSGM has been reprised by 1976 Olympic 1500m gold medal winner Sir John Walker and his Find Your Field of Dreams Foundation. Its aim is to provide Aucklanders, young and old, the chance to experience the thrill of running in the footsteps of champions and at the same time generate some revenue to support the work of Sir John’s Foundation.

Drysdale, Olympic single sculls champion in London, and his partner Juliette Haigh who won bronze in the women’s pair, were the first athletics to commit to the Clash of the Codes - for teams of two competitors. Drysdale put out a call for other Olympians to stretch their legs down Queen Street and show their support for an Olympic legend. It resulted in two-time swimming Olympians and Commonwealth Games medallists, Melissa Ingram and Cameron Gibson signing up followed by Jo Aleh, women’s 470 class yachting gold medal winner in London and keen multi-sporter, who will team up in the mile with Kiwi world champion Stand Up Paddler, Annabel Anderson.
Completing the treasure trove of Olympic medal winners are Hamish Carter, 2004 Olympic Triathlon Champion, and former middle distance star Dick Quax, who won the 5000m silver medal at Montreal where Sir John won the 1500m gold. Making up the top 10 are Northern Districts cricket reps, Jono Hickey and Hamish Clarke, who were both members of last year’s NZ under-20 World Cup team.
Drysdale and Haigh are cutting short a quick break in Sydney to run in Monday’s mile while Carter is rushing back from Queenstown to make the race start. “That’s the least I can do for John who inspired me to become an Olympian after watching him, as a youngster, on TV win his gold,” he says. “I soon discovered I wasn’t fast enough to be an Olympic runner so I turned to triathlon.”

Quax, now 65, was along with Walker and Rod Dixon, one of the Flying Kiwis who dominated world middle distance running through the 1970s and into the 80s, and still runs regularly. In recent years as a Manukau and Auckland councillor he acknowledges locking horns with Sir John on a number of occasions. “But this is when you put all that behind you. John is doing a lot for our young people and I’m delighted to support him with this event.”
Craig Pollock, Find Your Field of Dreams Foundation Chief Executive, says the Foundation is delighted with the response by so many Olympians to support the event. “To have three gold medal Olympians in the Clash of the Codes will make it a very special event. And on behalf of Sir John and the Foundation I’d like to thank Mahe and Juliette for all their behind-the-scenes work, and the others for joining in.

“This is a great chance for Aucklanders to get out in big numbers and show their support for what will be a very special race.”

The AUT Queen Street Golden Mile afternoon starts at 1pm with a Citizen’s Mile - open to anyone over 16. It will be followed by another 15 races with the Clash of the Codes timed for 4.20pm. The elite women’s mile and the elite men’s mile bring the afternoon to an end around 4.45pm.

Heading the line-up for the elite men’s mile is Hamish Carson (Raumati), who last weekend won his 3rd national senior 1500m title at Mt Smart. It also features three Australians, Ryan Gregson, Collis Birmingham and Brett Robinson, plus US Collegiate runner Miles Batty. Birmingham and Robinson will be fresh from good performances at the recent World Cross Country Championships in Poland, where they finished 8th and 29th respectively.

The elite women’s field is headed by Kiwi 2012 Olympic 1500m semi-finalist Lucy van Dalen, Australia’s Zoe Buckman and Susan Kuijken (Netherlands). All three have been training in Melbourne for the last 6 weeks and van Dalen returned home 10 days ago to compete at the NZ Athletic Championships where she won her first senior women’s 1500m title.

The Easter Monday afternoon starts with a lunch hosted by Mayor Len Brown at the Cloud on Queen’s Wharf. Special guest at the event will be former Olympic gold medallist and world 1500m and mile world record holder Steve Ovett, who will also join the SKY TV commentary teams for their coverage.

The AUT Queen Street Golden Mile has the support of Mayor Len Brown as well as Auckland Council, Athletics Auckland and the NZ Olympic Committee. More details about the QSGM are at www.queenstreetmile.co.nz


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