Victoria will be re-living memories of the 1994 Commonwealth Games on Monday, July 31 when the Queen’s Baton Relay makes its way through the Capital en-route to its eventual destination – the XXI Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in April 2018.
The City of Victoria and PISE have partnered to host the Queen’s Baton Relay and are inviting the community to come out on Monday during the lunch hour to cheer on the participants, who will include Mayor Lisa Helps, Olympian Bruce Deacon, para-runner and para-soccer player Liam Stanley, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism and international field hockey player Ravi Kahlon, and Commonwealth Games swimmer and triathlete Suzanne Weckend-Dill.
The Queen’s Baton Relay will begin at approximately 12:20 p.m. outside Victoria City Hall and will travel along Pandora Avenue, Vancouver Street and Rockland Avenue, finishing in front of Government House. Mayor Helps will transport the Baton affixed to her bicycle along the Pandora Avenue two-way bike lane to Vancouver Street. Deacon, Stanley, Kahlon and Weckend-Dill will then in turn relay the Baton to Government House and present it to Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.
Inside the Government House grounds, there will be a private ceremony where the Lieutenant Governor will present the Baton to Robert Bettauer, CEO of PISE. PISE has organized a range of interactive sports stations and physical literacy activities for 150 day camp children to participate in.
Deacon is one of Victoria’s most successful athletes representing Canada at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games, the IAAF World Athletics Championships (1995, 1997, 1999, 2001) the Victoria Commonwealth Games and the 2003 Pan American Games where he won a silver medal. He has won the Times Colonist 10k three times as well as the Royal Victoria Marathon in 1996. He still participates as a Masters runner but also coaches a group of 25 youth runners with the Prairie Inn Harriers, including Liam Stanley.
Stanley won a silver medal in the men’s 1,500-metre T37 final at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He repeated this just last week at the para-athletics world championships in London. Stanley is also one of Canada’s top soccer players and is part of the national para-soccer team. He has twice been named the Canadian para-soccer player of the year (2013 and 2014), joining the national team when he was just 14. He played on Canada’s seven-a-side squad at the Parapan Ams in summer 2015.
Kahlon is a champion field hockey player who earned his first international senior cap for the Men’s National Team in 2000 against Malaysia in Brussels. He has represented Canada at the Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games, has played three times in World Cup qualifying tournaments, and earned a 10th-place finish at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Weckend-Dill competed at the Commonwealth Games in two different sports. At 16, she swam for Canada at Victoria’s 1994 Games. Twelve years later, she was part of Team Canada in Triathlon at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia. In 2011, Weckend-Dill was appointed to the Executive Board of the Commonwealth Games Federation as the Athlete Representative.
The Queen’s Baton has four stops in Canada – all cities that have hosted the Commonwealth Games. The Baton arrives Friday in Hamilton, ON, host of the 1930 British Empire Games. It then goes to Edmonton and Friday evening will visit Commonwealth Stadium (site of 1978 Games) for the Edmonton Eskimos vs BC Lions CFL game. This will be followed by an official welcome on Saturday at Edmonton City Hall.
The Baton was launched on March 13, 2017 by Queen Elizabeth II, and will make a 388-day journey, covering 230,000 kilometres through 70 Commonwealth nations and territories before arriving in Gold Coast Australia for the XXI Commonwealth Games, that take place from April 4-15, 2018. The Queen’s message that was placed inside the Baton will be read at the Opening Ceremony.