Seventy one countries, 28 states, seven Union Territories and a 1,70,000-km long journey — that’s what it took for the Queen’s Baton to reach Delhi for the 19th Commonwealth Games. It was a proud moment for Indian wrestler Sushil Kumar, when he presented the baton to Prince Charles at the Opening Ceremony. “I was very happy… it’s a proud moment for any sportsperson to be given this opportunity,” says Kumar. “When I arrived at the podium, the Prince shook hands with me and said, ‘Go champion, all the very best for your competition’. I was also greeted by the President and other foreign dignitaries,” he reminisces.
The arrival of the baton into the stadium via a relay to mark the opening of the Games saw boxer Vijender Singh handing it over to boxer Mary Kom, who, in turn, passed it on to Kumar before it reached the podium.
“The response from viewers was great. I am so thankful to each and every person who cheered for us,” Kumar adds. Asked what he thought of the cultural performances at the ceremony, Kumar says, “All the acts were great. I had only seen this sort of a thing at the time of the Olympics, and seeing the same thing in your country makes you feel so proud and confident.”
Kumar, who is going through rigorous training sessions before battling it out in the ring, will be competing on October 10. “I am practising hard, and I hope I can make my country proud again.”