On the eve of Victoria finalizing its bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the Queen’s Baton for the 2018 Gold Coast Games today made its way through the Capital’s streets, relay style. An Olympian, Paralympian, two former Commonwealth Games athletes and the Mayor made up the relay which started at City Hall and ended at Government House.
Safely affixed to Mayor Lisa Helps bike, the Baton made its short journey up Pandora to Vancouver Street where Olympian marathon runner, Bruce Deacon, was waiting to run it down to Frontrunners. There, Paralympian 1,500 metre Silver Medallist Liam Stanley, and one of Deacon’s coached athletes, ran it to Rockland and passed it onto former international field hockey player Ravi Kahlon, who then ran up Rockland to Moss to meet Commonwealth Games swimmer and triathlete Suzanne Weckend-Dill. Weckend Dill then ran to Government House and presented the Baton to Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.
“We are honoured to welcome the Queen’s Baton to Victoria,” said Mayor Lisa Helps. “The Queen’s Baton Relay celebrates diversity, inspires community pride and excites people about sports and culture – values that the City of Victoria shares.” At a ceremony in the grounds of Government House, in front of 150 summer camp kids, she tasked the kids with asking how many countries were in the Commonwealth (the answer is 70) stressing the strong bond that each country has when they join together every four years to compete in the Games.
The Lieutenant Governor also reiterated the strong Commonwealth link. “The incredible journey of the Queen’s Baton is a symbolic linking of all countries under the Commonwealth, and the legacy of the Victoria 1994 Commonwealth Games is still felt here today.”
PISE, a legacy of the Victoria Games, organized the sports and physical activities for the kids, following the ceremony. Sports included Rugby led by Canadian legend Gareth Rees and tennis, with PISE CEO and former Davis Cup player, Robert Bettauer. “PISE is delighted and honoured to be a part of the Queen’s Baton celebrations at Government House. The Commonwealth Games inspire pride, culture, sportsmanship, and competition. I hope the summer campers here today will be inspired to stay involved in physical activity and sport and continue on their journey of leading healthy active lives.”
The Baton was launched on March 13, 2017 by Queen Elizabeth. Before arriving in Canada, the Baton visited the Bahamas and Bermuda. It travelled to Hamilton and Edmonton before coming to Victoria, and will be in Vancouver on Tuesday, then departing for Belize. It is on 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 takes place from April 4-15, 2018. The Queen’s message that was placed inside the Baton will be read at the Opening Ceremony by the Prince of Wales.