Sport

PM leads dignitaries to welcome Queen's Baton to Jamaica

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS Assistant Sport Editor

Saturday, April 05, 2014    

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The Queen's Baton — an enduring symbol of the Commonwealth Games — arrives in the island today on its global relay across the British Commonwealth.

Local organisers expect the conduit, which contains a message from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, to land at the Norman Manley International Airport from the British Virgin Islands at approximately 12:50 pm.

Accompanying the baton are staff from the Commonwealth Games Federation and a television crew from BBC, who have shadowed its trans-continental journey.

Jamaica's Prime Minister and Minister of Sport Portia Simpson Miller, Opposition Leader Andrew Holness, British High Commissioner to Jamaica David Fitton, Minister with Responsibility for Sports Natalie Neita-Headley, along with top-tier officials of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), will be on hand to officially welcome the baton at a ceremony at the VIP hospitality lounge at the airport.

The Jamaican leg of the Queen's Baton Relay will start at King's House tomorrow where track legend Donald Quarrie will hand it over to Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, who will then pass it to national hurdler Kaliese Spencer, then on to Champs 400m record-breaker, Calabar High's Javon Francis.

The different generations of athletes involved in the above leg of the relay fall within the theme 'Past, Present, Future', which is symbolic of this year's staging of the Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from July 23 to August 3, 2014.

On tomorrow's exciting route of the relay, the baton will leave King's House for the National Stadium, then to Heroes' Circle, moving to the inner-city of Tivoli Gardens.

It will then journey further west, a few hours later, to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller's South West St Andrew constituency -- moving along Waltham Park Road, D'Aguilar Road and onto Payne Avenue with a stop at the Haile Selassie High School.

From there, it will be carried to Three Miles and then to Waterhouse, another tough inner-city enclave and the childhood home of Jamaica's double Olympic sprint champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who will be on hand to participate.

"Everything is going smoothly, and the main activities actually start on Sunday," said Vishu Tolan, chairman of the organising committee of the activities planned around the baton's visit.

After covering Jamaica on a journey of some four days, the Queen's Baton will then move to neighbouring Cayman Islands.

At the Glasgow Games' opening ceremony, the baton will return to The Queen, who will remove her message and read it aloud, officially declaring the games open.

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