The 2014 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay has wound up its five-day stay in South Africa and now heads off from Cape Town on the next leg of its global voyage to St Helena island.
The baton arrived at OR Tambo Airport, Johannesburg from Lesotho on Monday on the last portion of its tour of the African continent.
South Africa was the 18th and final African country to host the baton and the 39th country worldwide.
The inland leg of the relay saw the baton visit Soweto, Daveyton, Reiger Park, Tshwane and Johannesburg before it flew to Cape Town on Thursday evening.
Friday’s activity saw delegates of the QBR being taken on a tour of The Springbok Experience at the SA Rugby Museum at the V&A Waterfront.
South African Rugby Union exco member Pat Kuhn welcomed the baton. “To us falls the honour of hosting the farewell to the baton. Rugby has also passed the baton of history, linking a complex divided past to the current united present. Thankfully today rugby is more often used to unite. We wish God speed to the Queen’s Baton Relay journey.
On behalf of SASCOC, Patience Shikwambana said: “Thank you to the Commonwealth Games Federation for bringing the baton to us. It was a great pleasure and we are confident that the baton has inspired our youth and children and at the same time we also showcased our own history.”
For her turn, British High Commissioner Judith McGregor praised the baton’s African experience. “It was truly a unique experience. The intensity and vivacity that South Africa brought to the journey was wonderful.”
Wrapping up the relay, SASCOC President and CGF vice-president Gideon Sam, then handed the baton over to CGF representative Louise Martin for the next leg of the relay, aboard the RMS St Helena for its next stop to the island of St Helena before heading off to Ascension Island, the Falklands and the Caribbean.
“I’m happy to be able to say that the Commonwealth is well and alive but we still need to raise the bar. And in this regard we’ll we’ll intensify our efforts to build the various Commonwealth Games Associations.”
Also present at the farewell were London Paralympian and bronze medallist Jonathan Ntutu, International Paralympic Committee world javelin champion Reinhardt Hamman and London Olympian and reigning SA road cycle champion Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio.
Addressing them, Sam concluded: “I don’t need to remind you athletes the effort that it will take to be on that plane to Glasgow. Touch this baton, hold it, kiss itÔÇª think of it when you go to sleep at night and use it as an inspiration to get to the Games.”
The baton now continues its global journey and will arrive in Glasgow in time for the opening ceremony of the 2014 Games on 23 July, 2014.
Pictures: Kendal Nash/HSM Images