Press Release – John Walker Field of Dreams
Former British Olympic 800m champion and multiple world record holder Steve Ovett has responded to a request to support “an old mate and very special friend” at the AUT Queen Street Golden Mile in Auckland on Easter Monday.
Ovett, 57, who during an international career spanning more than 15 years broke world records for the 1500m, one mile and two miles, will do some speaking and media engagements during his time in Auckland and also assist with comments during the live SKY TV coverage of the elite men’s and women’s miles on April 1.
Now based in Melbourne, Ovett moved to Australia 10 years ago and spends much of his time as a track & field consultant, commentator and guest speaker. He turned down the offer of work in Europe to “help John promote the event, which I’m sure will be good for everyone involved and the work of his charity.”
The Queen Street Golden Mile has been reprised – after a 30-year absence – by Sir John Walker’s FIND YOUR FIELD OF DREAMS Foundation. The Easter Monday afternoon starts with a Mayoral Lunch hosted by Mayor Len Brown at the Cloud on Queen’s Wharf followed by about 16 races spread over four hours, including juniors, veterans, over 20s, a corporate team event, an Auckland Citizen’s mile – open to anyone over the age of 16 – culminating in an elite men’s and women’s mile.
During the 1970s Ovett, fellow English middle distance ace Lord Coe and the flying Kiwi, dominated middle distance running, grabbing a host of world record and Olympic titles between them. And while their rivalry on running tracks from London to Los Angeles – and places in between – was intense, Ovett says his bond “with that bloke in the bloody black vest” has remained.
“John was one of the greatest athletes I ran against. He was beating me at the beginning of my career and still beating me at the end. I think I managed to sneak a few wins in the middle.
“He truly was unique in our sport, and not only a great runner but an entertainer, who by his sheer charisma changed the face of our sport. John really laid the foundation for what has developed into the professional era we know today.”
The news of Ovett’s appearance in Auckland over Easter to help promote the event co-incides with confirmation that the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) is to be the inaugural partner of this year’s AUT Queen Street Golden Mile.
FYFOD Chief Executive Craig Pollock says the Foundation is delighted to have secured the support of an organisation “so intrinsically involved in creating learning pathways and
career opportunities for generations of young people from Auckland and beyond.
“That very much mirrors the goal of the Foundation which is to positively impact the lives of young people in South Auckland and in areas of great need by providing accessible sports and physical recreation experience. Through our programmes across primary and secondary schools, and beyond, we are seeking to promote character development, life enhancing values, good health and community cohesion.
“We hope the partnership with AUT in the Queen Street Golden Mile can be continued for years to come.”
“This is a natural association for AUT,” said Vice Chancellor, Derek McCormack. “The Foundation and the University share common goals: to inspire the youth of our city, lift their
aspirations and support them as they fulfil their potential.
“The Queen Street Golden Mile is an iconic event, encouraging broad participation, while also celebrating achievement and excellence. Sports science is one of AUT’s strengths; the facilities at the AUT Millennium Campus are rated as being amongst the best in the world.
So we are eager to be involved.”
The Queen Street Golden Mile has the support of Mayor Len Brown as well as Auckland Council, Athletics Auckland and the NZ Olympic Committee.
All the races will start at the Queen St/Mayoral Drive intersection with athletes racing to the bottom of Queen Street, across Customs and Quay Streets, finishing on Queen’s Wharf.
More details about the Queen Street Golden Mile are at www.queenstreetmile.co.nz