Commonwealth Day celebrations in London today (Monday 13 March) had a distinctly Australian flavour with the official launch of the Gold Coast 2018 Queen’s Baton Relay on the historic forecourt at Buckingham Palace. Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Edward The Earl of Wessex, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II heralded the start of the relay, by placing her ‘message to the Commonwealth and its athletes’ into the distinctive loop-design Queen’s Baton which then set off on its journey around the globe.
A key feature of every Commonwealth Games, the Queen’s Baton Relay unites the nations and territories of the Commonwealth and its launch today signalled the start of the official world-wide countdown to the Games next year in Australia. Thousands of baton bearers will carry the Batonon the longest Queen’s Baton Relay in Commonwealth Games history, covering 230,000km over 388 days, as it makes its way through the six Commonwealth regions of Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Oceania, to its final destination, the Opening Ceremony of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) on 4 April 2018.
As it makes its way through Europe, the Baton will be in Scotland this summer between 22-28 August 2017 and the arrival of the Baton on Scottish soil will bring the Games one step closer for athletes and supporters, as Team Scotland aims for its best ever overseas medal haul in the Gold Coast.
An exciting range of celebrations are being planned with a strong youth and sport theme, showcasing our rich heritage, links to Australia and the Commonwealth and Glasgow 2014 legacy. Details of the events will be announced over the coming weeks, but with only five days on the ground compared to the extensive 42 day tour of the country in 2014 as Games hosts, the focus will be on maximising community engagement at events. Clyde, recently adopted as the new Team Scotland mascot, will be front and centre of the programme.
In 2014 the passionate support of the Scottish public spurred Team Scotland’s athletes onto their best Commonwealth Games performance in history at Glasgow 2014 and the Queen’s Baton Relay played a key role in building awareness and support for the team. With the 2018 Games taking place on the other side of the world, the Queen’s Baton Relay will be a fantastic opportunity for the nation to get behind Team Scotland once again and show their support in the lead up to and during the Games.
Attending the event at Buckingham Palace and looking forward to the Baton’s arrival in Scotland five months from now, Paul Bush OBE, Chair, Commonwealth Games Scotland said: “The Queen’s Baton Relay is an iconic symbol of the Commonwealth Games and today’s launch signals the official world-wide countdown to the start of Gold Coast 2018. We look forward to welcoming the Baton to Scotland in August, with the celebrations marking a fantastic opportunity for our local communities, schools and athletes to engage with the Games on a personal level.
“The support Team Scotland had for Glasgow 2014 was phenomenal and I look forward to seeing that passion again later this year. I hope everyone the length and breadth of the country will get behind the team and play their part in supporting Scotland’s athletes as they prepare to compete with distinction on the other side of the world.”
Ahead of the landmark celebrations in London and in the spirit of the ’Friendly Games’, Gold Coast mascot ‘Borobi’ visited Glasgow last week and hooked up with Clyde, Games organisers and Scottish track and field star Eilidh Doyle, to find out what made the 2014 Games such a huge success.
The double Commonwealth Games silver medallist, Eilidh Doyle said: “I can’t quite believe that the next Commonwealth Games is just over a year away. Glasgow 2014 was amazing in every way and being the very first person to carry the Queen’s Baton when it crossed the border from England to Scotland was extremely special.
“It will be fantastic to see the Gold Coast 2018 Baton in Scotland in August and it will certainly spur on all the athletes, including myself, to book their place on Team Scotland and on the plane to Gold Coast. Being part of Team Scotland is a unique experience and the only time we get to represent our country at a multi-sport Games. The public support means so much to us and certainly played a huge part in the Team’s success in Glasgow and it would be great if everyone can get behind Team Scotland once again.”
The day also included visits to challenge youngsters at Caledonia Primary School (recently awarded Gold Sport Award status by sportscotland) to an ‘Aussie style’ dance-off, before meeting gymnasts from the City of Glasgow club at the iconic ‘Big G’, relocated to Glasgow Green. The day concluded with a tour of some of the Glasgow 2014 Games venues to meet prospective Team Scotland athletes and wish them well in their quest for selection for the Gold Coast 2018 Games.