Olympians to dash down Queen St

Mahe Drysdale will take on fellow Olympic gold medallists Jo Aleh and Hamish Carter in a clash of the codes race down Queen Street on Monday. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Mahe Drysdale will take on fellow Olympic gold medallists Jo Aleh and Hamish Carter in a clash of the codes race down Queen Street on Monday. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Olympic gold medallists Mahe Drysdale, Jo Aleh and Hamish Carter are among a select group of 10 international Kiwi athletes lining up in Monday's clash of the codes event at the Queen Street Golden Mile race.

Last held 30 years ago, the race has been reprised by 1976 Olympic 1500m gold medal winner Sir John Walker and his Find Your Field of Dreams Foundation.

It features elite men's and women's races but has more than 15 races including a citizen mile - open to anyone over 16 and the clash of the codes.

Drysdale, Olympic single sculls champion in London, and his partner Juliette Haigh, who won bronze in the women's pair, were the first athletes to commit to the clash of the codes - for teams of two competitors.

Drysdale challenged other Olympians to to compete and show their support for Walker. It resulted in two-time swimming Olympians and Commonwealth Games medallists, Melissa Ingram and Cameron Gibson signing up followed by 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 representatives Jono Hickey and Hamish Clarke, who were both members of last year's New Zealand's 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 said. "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."

Heading the line-up for the elite men's mile is Hamish Carson (Raumati), who last weekend won his third national senior 1500m title, Australians Ryan Gregson, Collis Birmingham and Brett Robinson and 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 eighth and 29th respectively.

The elite women's field is headed by 1500m Olympic semi-finalist Lucy van Dalen from New Zealand, Australia's Zoe Buckman and Susan Kuijken (Netherlands). All three have been training in Melbourne for the last six weeks and van Dalen returned home 10 days ago to compete at the national championships when she won her first senior women's 1500m title.

- APNZ

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