Sport

The Queen isn’t coming?!

Some J'cans let down Her Majesty did not accompany batonThe Queen isn’t

BY SANJAY MYERS Observer staff reporter myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, April 08, 2014    

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AS the Queen's Baton was passed throughout a few inner city communities on Sunday, some residents were left disappointed that Her Majesty was not a part of the touring party.

On the Baton's first community stop in Tivoli Gardens, a woman appeared perplexed, while shrieking: "Den di Queen nuh come?"

Moments later, as the Jamaica Observer team dug around for answers, a female resident who said she works at a Basic School in the West Kingston community area, explained:

"Some a dem did feel the Queen was coming through the community and mi say 'no'. I kept telling them that it's not the Queen, it's the Commonwealth Baton making its 54th stop in Jamaica, and it coming in the inner city. All those (Commonwealth) countries coming together and having a big event."

The Queen's Baton Relay a traditional curtain-raiser to the Commonwealth Games -- set for Glasgow Scotland, from July 23 to August 3, 2014 -- is on a four-day tour of Jamaica.

The Relay symbolises the togetherness of Commonwealth nations for the sporting event staged every four years.

Last October, the Relay was launched at Buckingham Palace where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth placed a message inside the Baton.

After a journey throughout countries of the Commonwealth, the baton will arrive in Glasgow ahead of the Games.

The Queen will read the message aloud at the Opening Ceremony, officially declaring the start of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

During the early leg of Sunday's tour, the iconic baton -- accompanied by representatives from the British High Commission, staff of the Commonwealth Games Federation, local political figures, members of the Jamaica Olympic Association and a BBC team -- was relayed through Tivoli Gardens, Payne Land and Waterhouse.

Checks revealed that quite a few people were unsure of the Baton's significance, unaware of its link to the Commonwealth Games, and some even had no idea that the sporting event is to be held this summer.

An elderly woman, who said she lives in the Payne Land community, declared she had "no clue" what the fanfare was about, but shared that she challenged the sweltering midday temperature to see the Prime Minister and South West Member of Parliament Portia Simpson Miller.

Another Payne Land resident, a young woman, pointed out that she did not "know much" about the Relay but added that "it is good that it is passing through the various constituencies so that people can know that the Queen's Baton is in the island".

Denham Town resident Samora Parnell, who said he was visiting in Tivoli Gardens, gave the Observer his view on the tour.

"I think Jamaica will be highlighted for the significance of the Baton being here. They (Commonwealth countries) were all ruled by Britain at one point and all, if not most, are now independent and they see the British Monarchy as part of their country still. They all trade together for common good."

The Commonwealth Games, formerly known as the British Empire Games as well as the British Commonwealth Games, is a multi-sport showpiece involving member nations.

The Commonwealth of Nations are mostly made up of countries formerly under British colonial rule.

In theory, the Commonwealth brings together nations with diverse social, political, and economic backgrounds and regards them as equals in status, allows for co-operation within a framework of common values and goals.

Jamaica, a member since 1962, hosted the 1966 Commonwealth Games.

Minister with Responsibility for Sports Natalie Neita Headley welcomed the Baton to the island.

"We are very happy to have been the 54th country to have received the Queen's Baton going towards the Commonwealth Games and a fitting welcome with the prime minister having received it at the (Norman Manley International) Airport.

"To have gone to the inner city is a very nice touch to allow our people in their natural environment to get a feel of what the baton represents and as a great unifying force for the entire Commonwealth," Neita Headley told the Observer.

Meanwhile, during the final community visit of the session in Waterhouse, national sprint icon Donald Quarrie, who participated in the passing of the Baton, said the tour provides insight for the international community into various corners of Jamaica.

"It is good for people outside of Jamaica to see what Jamaica really is. It's about showing all the different aspects [including] the inner city. We are going in the country (rural areas) also, so it's very important and it gives people a sense of pride knowing that they are a part of something that is going to happen in a few months.

"I'm very pleased with the turnout that we have seen and I hope that this sort of thing will continue in other aspects of Jamaica's daily life, because we have to embrace the world and the world has to embrace us."

Quarrie, who won a flurry of gold medals at three Commonwealth Games between 1970 and 1978, was not put off by the unaware members of the public.

"In any situation not everyone will get to be involved, but the key is it (the Queen's Baton Relay) was a part of the community. History will show and you can't change that. Eventually individuals will realise, today or tomorrow, that 'we were a part of this' and that's where it really counts," he reasoned.

Quarrie, who also won gold over 200 metres at the 1976 Olympic Games, won the 100 and 200-metres event and was a part of the gold-medal-winning 4x100 relay team at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. In 1974 in Christchurch, New Zealand, he repeated the feat in the 100 and 200-metre events. He also won over 100 metres in Edmonton, Canada in 1978, but injury ruled him out of contention in the 200-metre race.

The Queen's Baton will make its next stop in neighbouring Cayman Islands.

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