The Gold Coast 2018 Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR) arrived in Scotland today, the 41st stop on its global tour, ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia.
As hosts of the last Games in 2014, Glasgow was the first place to give the Baton a huge warm Scottish welcome, as it visited a range of youth and community projects with a strong focus on Games legacy.
Michael Jamieson, Olympic and Commonwealth silver medallist in swimming, had the honour of being the first Batonbearer when it arrived at the Glasgow School of Sport, accompanied by Louise Martin CBE, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation and Jon Doig OBE, Chief Executive of Commonwealth Games Scotland. They were greeted by the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP; Councillor Eva Bolander, Lord Provost of Glasgow; Leader of Glasgow City Council, Councillor Susan Aitken and Angela Porter, Director of the Glasgow School of Sport.
Glasgow School of Sport is a hotbed of emerging young talent and has contributed numerous athletes to Team Scotland for the Commonwealth Games and Youth Games, including Jamieson and fellow Batonbearer, 16 year old sprinter, Lauren Greig.
Accepting the Baton on behalf of Scotland, Jon Doig OBE, said: “The Queen’s Baton Relay is the iconic symbol of the Commonwealth Games and we are delighted to welcome the Gold Coast 2018 Baton to Scotland today. We have had tremendous enthusiasm and support from local authorities, schools and community groups across the country, helping to organize an exciting programme of events, using the QBR to connect their communities with the Games and embrace the values of the Commonwealth movement as a whole.
“The public support Team Scotland enjoyed for Glasgow 2014 was phenomenal and I look forward to seeing that passion sparked once again, as the Baton journeys through Scotland this week.”
Welcoming the Baton’s arrival, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I am delighted to be able to welcome the Queen’s Baton Relay to Scotland during its journey around the Commonwealth ahead of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“Scotland hosted the most successful Commonwealth Games ever in Glasgow 2014 and we are looking to achieve our best away games ever in Australia next year.
“Bellahouston Academy has a proud record of producing athletes who have gone onto represent Scotland including our hugely successful Youth Commonwealth Games Team who brought back their highest haul of 21 medals from the recent Games in the Bahamas.
“We will continue to invest for the future by creating world-class facilities and providing funding for coaching and training so that, from grassroots to elite, Scotland can be proud of its sporting achievements.”
The presence of the Baton brings Gold Coast 2018 one step closer for athletes, as Team Scotland aims for its best ever medal haul at an overseas Games and Michael Jamieson said: “It is incredible to think that Glasgow 2014 was three years ago and now Scotland’s very best athletes are training hard once again, to qualify for Gold Coast in just eight months-time. Having the Queen’s Baton Relay here this week will spur them on even more and it will also help to get the public behind the team, which is really important.”
Next stop for the Baton was the former Commonwealth Games Village in Dalmarnock, which is now a thriving residential area and then over the new pedestrian cycle and footbridge into South Lanarkshire, for a loop of the Cuningar Woodland Park courtesy of the Bike Town cycling group, celebrating this important 2014 legacy project which is being driven by Clyde Gateway.
Lord Smith of Kelvin, former chair of the 2014 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee and now Chair of Clyde Gateway said: “I was proud to play my part in delivering the most successful ever Commonwealth Games back in 2014, but I am just as proud of the fact that my role with Clyde Gateway is helping to ensure the promises around a lasting and sustainable legacy are being kept.
“The remarkable and eye-catching physical changes in the east end of Glasgow and Rutherglen are being matched by a tremendous economic and social regeneration that has made a real difference to the lives of local people and will continue to do so for many more years to come.”
The busy morning concluded with a visit to meet youngsters at the Badminton Scotland ‘Big Hit’ participation event at the Emirates Arena, a 2017 World Badminton Championships initiative. Carrying the Baton and there to inspire the next generation of young players was Commonwealth Games badminton bronze medallist, Susan Egelstaff.
The Baton was then taken the short distance to The Legacy Hub by People’s Development Trust representative John Macaulay for a Dalmarnock community BBQ.
After visits to Team Scotland sponsor, CGI with Batonbearer Para-Sport athlete Meggan Dawson-Farrell, there was a meeting with Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Scotland at a Common Purpose UK students programme, where discussions took place on what this generation of the Commonwealth can do to make our cities more safe and inclusive by 2030.
The finale to the day’s proceedings was a public event in George Square, where the Depute Lord Provost of Glasgow, Baillie Philip Braat met with Glasgow 2014 Clydesiders, including Batonbearer Izzy Conway and Commonwealth Youth Games boxing gold medallist, Tyler Jolly. The Square also witnessed the first meeting of Bonnie the Seal, the new face of the Glasgow 2018 European Championships and the much loved former Glasgow 2014 mascot Clyde, who is now fully immersed in his new Team Scotland role.
Reflecting on the excitement in the city today, Councillor Eva Bolander, Lord Provost of Glasgow, said: “It only seems like yesterday that we were welcoming our own Queen’s Baton Relay to the city ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The people of Glasgow were so excited and enthusiastic, and it really was wonderful to see.
“There was a real sense of pride here in Glasgow today as the 2018 Queen’s Baton toured the city, from its welcome to the country by the next generation of elite Scottish athletes at the Glasgow School of Sport, to its visit with the young people participating in legacy events for the 2017 Badminton World Championships, and meeting with one of our fabulous Clydesiders in George Square.
“If the excitement today is any indicator, everyone in the country will be behind the Scottish athletes next April, cheering Team Scotland on as it aims for its best ever overseas medal haul!”