Tomorrow, Friday 14 March 2014, National Heroes Day here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, will witness the arrival of the Queen’s Baton, symbol of the Commonwealth Games of Glasgow, Scotland (23 July – 4 August 2014), in our beautiful country where it will stay through to the afternoon of Sunday 16 March.
Here in St Vincent and the Grenadines the National Olympic Committee is also the Commonwealth Games Association (CGA), affiliated to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) headquartered in London, England.
The presence of the Queen’s Baton in our country is an important historical moment and the CGA is anxious and hopeful. The intention is to encourage Vincentians, especially our youth to recognise the important role that sport continues to play in maintaining the Commonwealth Family of which we continue to be an integral part. If there is one thing that defines the Commonwealth in modern times it is the quadrennial celebration of sport in which all members participate.
Perhaps it is more than a little unfortunate that some of us hold fast to the view that the Commonwealth itself does not quite understand and appreciate the value of sport as a unifying and genuine development force for good among its membership and ultimately to the world.
Our CGA historiography
The Commonwealth Games dates back to 1930 in Hamilton, Canada, when they were held under the name, The British Empire Games. They have been held quadrennially since then with the exception of 1942 and 1942 as a result of World War II.
St Vincent and the Grenadines first participated in the Commonwealth Games in 1958 when they were held in Cardiff, Wales. Elton Anderson who contested the sprint in Cardiff is alive and with us today.
The St Vincent and the Grenadines Amateur Athletics Association served as this country’s Commonwealth Games Association until 1987 when the National Olympic Committee assumed that organisational function.
This country has attained some measure of success at the Commonwealth Games.
Gold medals have been won. In Boxing Frankie Lucas won gold in the 75kg category when the Games were held in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Natasha Mayers captured this country’s second gold medal at the Games when she won the 100m in controversial circumstances in Delhi, India, in 2010.
George Manners had won medals for England in previous Games, won bronze wearing St Vincent and the Grenadines colours in 1970 in Edinburgh, Scotland
Maurice King, competing in the Games in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1966 finished fourth in the weightlifting competition with a total of 771 pounds. Also at these Games in Jamaica were Victor Peters (220yds and 440yds) and Ayrton Clouden (Decathlon and Javelin). CGF records have Peters down to do the triple jump and Clouden to do the pole vault. Neither participated in these events
Our CGA continues to be well represented and recognised by the entire CGF fraternity.
The Queen’s Baton
The Queen’s Baton is actually a creative torch-like instrument that contains a message from the official head of the Commonwealth, currently HRH Queen Elizabeth II. The message is taken out of the Baton at the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games and read to the world.
Every four years the host of the pending Commonwealth Games creates a very special Queen’s Baton that at once incorporates aspect of the Commonwealth, the Games and the culture of its own society in the design of the instrument that would receive global recognition for the period leading up to and the duration of the Games.
For the Commonwealth Games of 2006 in Melbourne, Australia, the creativity of the design of the Queen’s Baton saw the introduction of a chip that allowed for the transmission of the journey of the instrument around the Commonwealth in real time. This led to the host being able to provide all the world with live images of the Baton’s journey. This has since become a permanent feature of the Baton and the Queen’s Baton.
The Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR)
The Queen’s Baton Relay is the name given to the journey of the Baton across the Commonwealth. It begins in London, of course, and ends at the opening ceremony of the pending Commonwealth Games, a journey of 248 days covering more than 190,000 kilometres around the CGF’s membership.
This year, since Glasgow, Scotland, is the official host of the Games, the QBR will conclude there on 23 July and St Vincent and the Grenadines CGA with its athletes , will be in attendance.
According to the CGF and the Glasgow Organising Committee, the vision of the QBR 2014 reads: The Glasgow 2014 Queen’s Baton Relay is Scotland’s heartfelt invitation to the athletes, people and communities of the Commonwealth to join together and celebrate sport, culture and unity at the XX Commonwealth Games.
The belief amongst the CGF fraternity and the Glasgow Organising Committee is that the QBR, given its uniquely expansive nature, will, among other things…
The world’s most engaging relay will:
- Unite the Commonwealth through sport and connect and involve its cultures and citizens, and especially young people
- Be an exciting, dramatic and inclusive physical and digital countdown to the Games
- Showcase what Scotland and Glasgow offer the world
- Champion the values, successes and spirit of the Commonwealth family.
The QBR reflects to the rest of the world the profound unity of the Commonwealth of nations, the rich diversity of cultures and the immense determination of the member countries to use sport as a vehicle for change and development of peoples.
The Commonwealth Games are known globally as The Friendly Games. The reason for this is simple. There is a strong sense of unity and commitment to the values and ideals consistent with the changing global environment.
The CGF can boast of being the only multisport organisation in the world with so many members which encourages and insists upon the full involvement of all it members in the QBR. The Olympic Flame only involves a few countries in stark contrast. In this regard the CGF holds a very special place and distinguishing feature in the international sport community in so far as involvement is concerned.
At the official opening ceremony in Scotland, as was done at the two previous editions – Melbourne in 2006 and Delhi in 2010 – selected aspects of the QBR’s journey would be integrated into its panoramic features.
The UNICEF angle
Glasgow 2014, the organising committee for this year’s Commonwealth Games, has sought to make a significant difference in the way it went about preparing for and hosting this important mega event. One such way is the collaboration between the organising committee, the CGF and UNICEF. This is a new initiative and one that we all hope would be a critical feature of the Games going forward. The intention is to inspire children in Commonwealth countries to strive to be the best that they can be. Indeed the agreement is forged under the banner, be the best you can be.
The St Vincent and the Grenadines leg of the QBR is expected to be exciting. The Baton arrives with a seven-member team on the morning of 14 March. It will be taken to the Heroes Day celebrations at Fancy, where it will be officially presented to those present. The actual running with the baton begins in Owia and traverses the entire windward coast of the island ending at the St Vincent Grammar School Playing Field.
On Friday evening there will be a formal ceremony hosted by HE Sir Frederick Ballantyne, Governor General, who will officially receive the Baton.
On Saturday 15 March, the QBR shifts to Mustique where a slew of activities have been planned. The QBR continue son St Vincent from 1.00pm with a run from the ET Joshua airport to and around Kingstown then to the Arnos Vale Sports Complex where there will be a sports festival involving Netball, Volleyball and Kids in Athletics.
Wherever the QBR passes it will be accompanied by a motorcade and it is anticipated that Vincentians will come out to share in the historic moment.
On Sunday morning, the Baton would be taken to North leeward before the entourage leaves the State in the afternoon.
The CGA is hopeful that this country would be very well represented at the Games in Glasgow later this year with the vast majority of the athletes being relatively young. This is understandable as the several eligible associations have been developing their respective sports from the ground up. Already there are some very good prospects who eagerly look forward to qualifying for Glasgow.’
The presence of the Queen’s Baton in St Vincent and the Grenadines this weekend should serve to further inspire Vincentian athletes to strive after excellence always seeking to be the best that they can be.