The Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay has completed four jam-packed days in Australia from 17 to 20 March, where over 50 Batonbearers were selected to represent their country. It follows recent visits to other Commonwealth Games Associations in Oceania, some of which include:
- Kiribati – where the Baton visited Ambo, a village which is planted with mangroves along the coast as a protective measure to counter effects of climate change
- Cook Islands– where brave athletes took on the 775m Boiler Swim along a deep passage to and from the “Boiler”, which is an old shipwreck.
- New Zealand– where the Baton visited Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre which focuses on wildlife conservation and restoration.
The Relay officially began its 294-day long journey on 7 October and is currently visiting all 72 Commonwealth nations and territories, joining cultures and communities together in the lead up to Birmingham 2022.
When each Commonwealth Games Association hosts the Queen’s Baton, they organise an impressive schedule of events to celebrate their local heroes, untold stories, and sustainability efforts. In five-time Commonwealth Games host country, Australia, the Baton was taken to visit several previous Games venues. The activities in Australia started on 17 March in Gold Coast, the most recent Commonwealth Games host city, with a welcome ceremony performed at Kurrawa Surf Club by Yugambeh Aboriginal Dancers and Uncle John Graham, a Traditional Custodian of the region.
The Relay continued at previous Commonwealth Games venue, Broadbeach Lawn Bowls, where Lawn Bowl legends Kelsey Cottrell and Tony Bonnell demonstrated their skills in a game, before carrying the Baton. Mother and daughter swimming duo Lani Pallister and Janelle Elford also represented their country as Batonbearers.
The first day came to a close at Parliament House in Brisbane, where Queensland Governor, Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeannette Young PSM interacted with the Baton. The second day, 18 March, kicked off in Sydney where Commonwealth Games champions Anneliese Rubie-Renshaw, Ridge Barredo, and Sharni Williams took on the role of Batonbearer at Sydney Cricket Ground.
Next, the Baton was taken to visit the Carbine Club, where athletes and Kurt Fearnley Scholarship holders, Alex Tuckfield, swimmer, Indiana Cooper, sprinter, and Sarah Clifton-Bligh, wheelchair racer, were chosen to carry the Baton. The scholarship aims to support young para-athletes with qualifying for Birmingham 2022.
That evening, the Baton was taken to a reception at Admiralty House, the Sydney official residence of General David John Hurley, AC, DSC, FTSE. Australian sporting icons Ian Thorpe and Dawn Fraser attended the event.
The day ended with a light projection display, by the Birmingham 2022 Business and Tourism Programme (BATP), depicting the Baton’s journey, well as introducing the West Midlands - the host region of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games - at The Rocks, close to Sydney Opera House. Her Excellency Vicki Treadell CCMG, MVO British High Commissioner to Australia and Fiona Allan, CEO of Opera Australia and former Artistic Director & Chief Executive at the Birmingham Hippodrome theatre, were in attendance.
Activities on the third day started at Marie Dunn Netball Courts, where netball champion Paige Hadley and local players carried the Baton.
Longines, official partner of the Queen’s Baton Relay, hosted the Baton at the Longines Golden Slipper race where it was paraded around the Winner’s circle on horseback. Ellie Cole, one of the most decorated para-swimmers in Australian history, and Rohan Browning, who ran the fastest 100 metres ever by an Australian at the Olympic Games, were chosen as Batonbearers for the event.
The day ended at Lakeside Stadium with Melbourne Track Classic 2022, where athletes competed to earn points to meet the standards for Team Australia, to compete at Birmingham 2022. Commonwealth gold medallists Kelsey-Lee Barber, javelin athlete, and Cara Honeychurch, 10 pin bowler, competed in the event and carried the Baton around the stadium. The only time Ten Pin Bowling was included in a Commonwealth Games Programme was at Kuala Lumpur 1998.
The final day of the Australian Relay started at Lake Wendouree in Ballarat, with Steve Moneghetti, legendary Australian long-distance runner, and local athletes completing a lap of the lake. The Relay continued to Melbourne, visiting previous host venue Melbourne Cricket Ground. Many incredible athletes were chosen to carry the Baton during the celebrations, including Commonwealth Games gold medallists Sharelle McMahon and Tamsyn Lewis Manou.
University of Birmingham, official partner of the Queen’s Baton Relay, hosted the final event of the Australian leg of the Relay at their partner institute University of Melbourne, in the Old Quad. The event celebrated outstanding students and alumni who have been chosen to be Batonbearers: The seven University of Birmingham-nominated Batonbearers at the Melbourne event were:
- Elena Galiabovitch, a Commonwealth and Olympic shooter. She is also a doctor and currently studying her masters at the University of Melbourne;
- Joanna Weston, a netballer with the Melbourne Vixens. She studied a Bachelor of Commerce at University of Melbourne;
- Mo Zhang, a Raymond PriestleyScholar undertaking a joint PhD at the Universities of Birmingham and Melbourne;
- Renee Yong, a University of Melbourne student who studied at the University of Birmingham on exchange;
- Sophie Clarkson, a University of Birmingham student on exchange at the University of Melbourne;
- Franka Vaughan, a University of Birmingham graduate now studying a PhD at the University of Melbourne; and
- Chloe Culhane, a University of Birmingham student on exchange at the University of Melbourne.
The Queen’s Baton will now continue its epic journey and will start its adventure through the Americas, with upcoming visits to Belize and Guyana.
Ben Houston, President of Commonwealth Games Australia, said: “It has been an honour to host the Queen’s Baton down under. Taking the Baton to some of our previous Games venues has rekindled many memories and also reminded us all of the iconic moments of Games past. And it helps focus even more attention on Birmingham for our team as the Games get closer.”
Lisa Hampton, Head of the Queen’s Baton Relay, said: “The nations and territories in Oceania have put on such incredible activities for everyone around the world to enjoy virtually and have let us learn more about their culture”.
“The Australian section of the Queen’s Baton Relay has been a spectacular showcase of sport and athletes. It has been so special to see the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton visit four previous Commonwealth Games host cities and previous venues- it has really built excitement for Birmingham 2022 and its legacy.”
CGF President Dame Louise Martin said: “The Australian section has been truly outstanding and it is always a pleasure to go to the country that has hosted the Games on five occasions. We remain optimistic that the Games will return to the country in the future. The Baton has helped raise the excitement and anticipation levels for Birmingham 2022 across Oceania as we move ever closer to the Opening Ceremony on July 28.”