The Queen’s Baton Relay embarked on a whirlwind tour of the Mother City Sunday.
In the country on a worldwide tour ahead of the XIX Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India in October, Cape Town was the baton’s third port of call after arriving in Johannesburg Saturday and then visiting Durban, also yesterday.
The baton was met at Cape Town International airport by Hajera Kajee, first vice-president of South African Olympic governing body SASCOC and the city’s mayor, Alderman Dan Plato.
A group of cyclists, lead by national rider Luthando Kaka, then took the baton to the Gugulethu Indoor Sports Complex.
“It was actually quite difficult,” said Kaka.”It was only about an eight-kilometre ride but it was difficult riding with one hand and holding this fancy baton in the other. I don’t think my fellow cyclists were keen to hold it because the pressure of dropping this smart baton would have been too much!”
The baton’s entourage were treated to a gymnastics performance in Gugulethu and then the baton moved on to Heideveld with a group of athletes.
Members of local Premier Soccer League club Santos were on hand as well as local minstrels, the Heideveld Entertainers who provided a backdrop. The baton then went to the historic venue of the castle in the city centre where West Coast “Rieldancers” performed. The national Sevens rugby team, led by captain Mzwandile Stick, then jogged to the Waterfront.
There the baton boarded the Sikhululekile ferry to the world heritage site of Robben Island.
Former prisoner and now tour guide, Kgotso Ntsoelengoe, heard the tale of the baton’s journey through Africa and said in the days when┬á the maximum security prison was still in operation the prisoners also had their own “national games”
“We called it our own Summer Games, an annual tournament but to us it was just as big as the Commonwealth Games or Olympics!”
The torch moves on to Bloemfontein on Monday before wrapping up it’s four-day visit to the country with a function at Olympic House in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
South Africa was the baton’s 21st country visited and it now heads off to Lesotho.