Sport

Fun, excitement as Queen's Baton tours inner city

BY SANJAY MYERS Observer staff reporter myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, April 07, 2014    

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SOME residents in some of the Corporate Area's harshest communities came face to face with the Queen's Baton yesterday as it began its trip around the island as part of a global relay ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The Games is slated to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from July 23 to August 3.

The Queen's Baton, which contains a message from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, was accompanied by staff of the Commonwealth Games Federation, a BBC team, representatives from the British High Commission, figures from both sides of the local political spectrum, volunteers and members of the Jamaica Olympic Association.

After a stop at the Heroes' Circle, the baton — a symbol of the Games — made its way through Tivoli Gardens, Payne Land as well as Waterhouse, the childhood base of national sprint dynamo Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, during a hectic morning to early afternoon session.

Jamaica's Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, the member of parliament for South West St Andrew, speaking on the grounds of the Haile Selassie High School in Payne Land, welcomed the Queen's Baton Relay, while noting the successes of some young members of the community.

"I think that the Queen's Baton getting here at Haile Selassie School is very important in a constituency of inner cities, with a number of our students excelling and doing very well," said Simpson Miller, who also has direct oversight of the Ministry of Sports.

After her brief speech, the prime minister went on a trademark run, baton in hand, and lightly sprinting a short distance through the gates of the school, betraying her 68 years. Dignitaries and community supporters sought to keep pace with her in the torturous midday sun.

Earlier in Tivoli Gardens, the touring party, met by Member of Parliament of West Kingston Desmond McKenzie and the Opposition member and former Minister of Sports Olivia Grange, was treated to music by the community's drumming band.

At the community centre playing field, participants, which included minister with responsibility for sports Natalie Neita Headley, McKenzie, members of the senior national netball team and other volunteers, made a mock relay run around the approximately 300-metre long park.

At the baton's last stop in Waterhouse, the seemingly ever-smiling Fraser-Pryce, who has committed to competing at her first Commonwealth Games, said she wanted to use her success as a gold-medal winning Olympian to see how best I can use that image to encourage young people.

She urged others to aid in caring "for our children" and "making sure the path they select is one that helps them better".

After a four-day journey in Jamaica the Queen's Baton Relay team will move to neighbouring Cayman Islands.

During the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Games, The Queen will remove her message from the symbolic rod and read it aloud.

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