Christchurch's QEII Stadium to be demolished in wake of 2011 earthquake

Monday, 07 May 2012
By Tom Degun

QEII stadium_May_4May 7 - Christchurch's Queen Elizabeth II (QE11) Stadium (pictured), home of the 1974 Commonwealth Games, will be torn down due to the irreparable damage it suffered from a devastating earthquake in February 2011 that killed over 150 people.

The 20,000-capacity venue, which was built specially Games, is part of the larger QEII Park featuring a public swimming and diving pool.

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake, which hit Christchurch on February 22, came less than a month after the conclusion of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Athletics Championships and followed a major 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck on September 4 the year before.

The venue was closed indefinitely last year following the February earthquake.

The news of the building's demolition is a huge blow for the region given that the QEII Stadium is one of Christchurch's most iconic sporting venues and that a brand new permanent training track had just been built as part of the requirement for hosting the IPC World Athletics Championships.

The Stadium, though, will be best remembered for the race at the 1974 Commonwealth Games when Tanzania's Filbert Bayi (pictured) beat New Zealand's John Walker to win the 1500 metres in 3mm 32.16sec, a world record that stood for more than five years until it was broken by Britain's Sebastian Coe, now the chairman of London 2012. 

Filbert Bayi_beats_John_Walker_1974_Commonwealth_Games
Walker's time of 3:32.52 was also under American Jim Ryun's previous world record.

Other highlights of the Games included Australia's Raelene Boyle winning three gold medals, including the 100m and 200m, and England's Alan Pascoe claiming the 400m hurdles in 48.83, which at the time was the second fastest performance in history.

Then, while doing his victory lap in reverse, Pascoe attempted to leap the last hurdle still remaining from the race and badly missed the hurdle, falling onto his back and denting the hurdle.

Trying to regain his dignity, he circled around to attempt the jump the hurdle in another lane and fell identically.

It is a moment still regularly shown on television blooper shows. 

Following the disaster, IPC President Sir Philip Craven said: "This is truly devastating news and on behalf of the whole Paralympic Movement I would like to send our thoughts and condolences to the people in Christchurch.

"I would also like to convey our deepest sympathies to those who have tragically lost loved ones in this disaster.

"Christchurch is a great city with some great people."

Christchurch earthquake_Feb_2011_May_4
Former New Zealand athlete Dick Tayler, who won gold in the 10,000m at the venue at the 1974 Commonwealth Games, said he will be sad to see it go.

"After a quiet period the QEII been a fantastic stadium for young and old and elite sports people so that really hits me as sadder than anything.

But Taylor said that there is now an opportunity to build a new complex, claiming that sporting facilities around the city are still in very short supply after the earthquake.

"There's never been a better time for Christchurch to step outside the circle and do something they never envisioned they'd do: build a huge monstrous sporting complex," he said.

The IPC World Athletics Championships were the last major event to be held at the QEII Stadium.

To read Tom Degun's blog on his memories of the QEII Stadium click here.

Contact the writer of this story at tom.degun@insidethegames.biz


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