Space on monument to Olympians, Paralympians has filled up fast

Space on monument to Olympians, Paralympians has filled up fast

CHAMPAIGN — With five new medal-winning athletes, the Tribute to Olympic and Paralympic Athletes Monument is running out of space for names.

"And that's good news," says Champaign Park District Executive Director Joe DeLuce.

On the 25th anniversary of the monument at 1501 N. Mattis Ave. in Dodds Park, architect Jeffery Poss will soon be adding a granite panel, with this year's bumper crop nearly filling all the slots.

The induction ceremony will run from noon to 1 p.m. today at the monument site.

Some of the inducted athletes will speak, and local Olympian and Paralympic athlete Jean Driscoll will say a few words, with WDWS' Jim Turpin serving as master of ceremonies, DeLuce said.

The 2016 Rio Paralympics athletes, who were sent off from the tribute site and will have their names in granite: Tatyana McFadden, Nichole Millage, Josh George, Brian Siemann and Amanda McGrory.

McFadden won't be there because she's taping "Ellen," DeLuce said.

He said that in 1991, Bob Toalson was the park district's general manager, and saw so many athletes from the Champaign area or the University of Illinois winning medals that the district held a contest to create the monument.

Poss, a University of Illinois professor, came up with the idea to integrate the granite monument with the landscape.

Poss' work has filled up with 45 inductees.

When the new engravings are uncovered today, Poss said, there's no room left.

"We'll just have to open a new chapter on the piece of granite, a nice problem to have," said a happy Poss. "I didn't expect it to fill up this quickly."

He said the monument has a checkerboard quality, with granite changing color as it is polished.

"The next will be on light granite with dark letters," Poss said.

"It becomes a kind of double chronology; the most recent athletes will be paired with the more historical athletes now, mixing it up rather nicely."

The Olympic Tribute is also being re-graded to its original contours. It is also being replanted, with native grasses.

"Over the years, some of the proportions have changed," Poss said.

"The concrete uprights express achievement. This will make the uprights stand out more and also restore the relationship between the uprights and the earth itself — the berms along the ramps."