By Tom Degun

Liz_Johnson_lying_final_tile_in_Aquatics_Centre_April_18_2011April 18 - Paralympic gold medal winning swimmer Liz Johnson has laid the final tile in the Aquatics Centre competition pool to mark 500 days to go to the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony.

The 25-year-old from Newport was at the London 2012 Aquatics Centre for the first time as she put down the last of 180,000 tiles lining the 50 metre competition and training pools as well as the dive pool.

The competition and diving pools will now be filled with millions of litres of water while the 50 metre training pool has already been filled.

"With just 500 days of training and preparation to go until the Paralympic Games open, it's great to see first-hand where I hope to be competing and to play a very small part in building it," said Johnson.

"You can really imagine what the atmosphere will be like in 500 days' time in such a fantastic venue.

"I can't wait to compete at the Aquatics Centre in front of thousands of fans and it's great that it will be available for everyone to use once the Games have finished."

The Zaha Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre has come under fire in recent months due to the escalating costs of constructing the venue.

The London 2012 bid book price estimated it would cost £73 million ($118 million) to build but the anticipated final cost in the latest figures released show that the price is now over £269 million ($434 million).

The complexity of the 160 metre long wave-shaped roof has also meant that two temporary wings have had to be attached to the venue for extra seating but the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) claim that it is on track to be completed as planned this summer in time for the scheduled test events ahead of the Games.

ODA chief executive Dennis Hone said: "The Aquatics Centre is on track to be a great sporting stage for the world's best athletes in 2012.

"After the Games it will become a fantastic new flexible and accessible facility for swimmers and divers of all ages and abilities."

The Aquatics Centre will be the main gateway into the Games' during London 2012 and second biggest venue on the Olympic Park behind the Olympic Stadium.

Hugh Robertson, the Sport and Olympics Minister said: "Good progress has been made in delivering this iconic and complex venue.

"With the tiles down and the water going in, the Aquatics Centre will soon be the third venue on the Park to be complete."

After the Games, the Aquatics Centre will become a 2,500 capacity venue providing two 50m swimming pools with moveable floors and separation booms, a diving pool and dry diving area for the full range of community and elite use.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "This awesome building will provide the perfect setting for the world's best swimmers to battle it out for gold, silver and bronze in 2012 and long into the future.

"With the likes of Paralympic athletes Liz Johnson and Ellie Simmonds competing next summer, I am sure that the cheers from the home crowds will be loud enough to raise the wave-shaped roof."

Andrew Altman, chief executive of the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), added: "We have already had a positive response in the first stages of looking for an operator to turn this iconic building into a much needed centre to be enjoyed by families, clubs and community groups after the 2012 Games.

"Its two 50m pools and a 25m diving pool, all with moveable floors, will also provide elite swimmers with a world class facility and encourage the next generation of swimmers to follow in their footsteps."

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