July 27 - A Year to Go until the start of the London 2012 Olympics will be marked today when the wave-shaped Aquatics Centre becomes the fifth and final permanent venue to be officially completed.
The £269 million ($442 million) Aquatics Centre joins the towering Olympic Stadium, the sleek-looking Velodrome, the multi-use handball arena and the enormous International Broadcast Centre (IBC) which have changed the skyline of London's Eastern approaches.
Basketball's gleaming white 12,000-seat rectangular venue is also ready for use, although despite its imposing size it will be dismantled after the Games.
Former world diving champion Tom Daley will plunge off the boards this evening to ripple the waters for the first time.
"Marking the one year to go, by diving in the Aquatics Centre is an incredible honour," Daley said.
"Only a few years ago, this was a distant dream."
The iconic Aquatics Centre, which houses two 50 metre pools and a diving pool and can seat 17,500 spectators during the Games, came in over budget and also missed its completion date because of complications over its roof design and heating systems.
There are also concerns about its long-term viability and the thousands with tickets for the swimming events next year might be slightly underwhelmed by the "bolt-on" temporary stands which rather diminish the striking stingray concept envisaged by Iraq-born architect Zaha Hadid.
The cosmetics are still to be applied, such as the greening of the park with thousands of trees and plants, temporary venues constructed, and the athletes Village to be fitted out, but London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe said the handover of the sixth main building project on the Park with a year still remaining was a cause for pride.
"With construction now complete on the Aquatics Centre, we are another step closer to the spectacular Olympic Park which will be host to world class sport in 2012," Coe said.
"After the Games, the venue will become a much-needed swimming facility for London with community use at its heart, epitomising the spirit of London's bid.
"Everyone involved can be very proud of this venue and the progress of the Olympic Park as a whole."
More than 160,000 tonnes of soil, much of it contaminated, were dug out to build the Aquatics Centre -- an operation that uncovered several Iron Age skeletons as well an assortment of rusting relics from the area's former uses.
Now, the venue, which will lose its temporary stands after the Games and return to a 2,500-seat facility, has become a landmark for commuters travelling into the city by train and its sweeping 160 metre long roof will be one of the first impressions visitors will have of the Games.
Inside too, it will have a distinctive look, with 37,000 individual strips of hardwood forming the ceiling.
The test event, the British Championships and Olympic trials, will take place in the Aquatics Centre early next year.
More than 3,600 people have worked on the construction of the venue and over 370 UK businesses have won contracts including the steel for the roof from Wales, pool lights from Scotland, pumps from Bedfordshire, under-floor heating by a company from Newcastle-upon-Tyne and water testing done by a Flintshire-based business.
In total, over 40,000 people have worked on the Park since April 2008 and over 1,500 direct contracts worth £6 billion have been distributed to thousands of companies across the UK.
"The Aquatics Centre will be a fantastic gateway to the Games in 2012 and a much-needed new community and elite sporting venue for the capital afterwards," said John Armitt, the chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authrotiy (ODAD).
"Five years ago, in July 2006, we published a delivery timetable which set out the ambitious target to complete the main venues a year before the Games.
"Today, with the completion of the sixth main permanent venue, I am proud to say that we have delivered on that commitment.
"The completion of the Aquatics Centre is the latest chapter in a British success story where tens of thousands of workers and business from across the UK have demonstrated the ability of this country to successfully deliver major projects."
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April 2011: Final tile laid at London 2012 Aquatics Centre
March 2011: Newham jumps into race to take over "foolish" Olympic Aquatics Centre
January 2011: Aquatics Centre and handball arena looking for tenants after London 2012
September 2010: Foster lays first tile at London 2012 Aquatics Centre
April 2010: Water poured into pools to test London 2012 Aquatics Centre