The Queen’s Baton Relay 2010 has entered Wales after a little over a week in England and champions, emerging stars, school children and civic leaders have had the privilege of carrying it.
The launch will remain etched in my mind forever. We had a packed house on the forecourt of the Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth II was her gracious self as she spent close to 20 minutes on stage, placing her message to the athletes in the baton and then handing it over to President Smt. Pratibha Patil. It was the first time that a head of state of the host nation was present at the launch of the Baton Relay. To hear our national anthem being played by a British band in the presence of the Queen was special.
I could sense the pride as our Baton-bearers sat through a briefing we had organised. Be it the evergreen Milkha Singh, young Sania Mirza, Abhinav Bindra or Dilip Tirkey, the champions were bound by passion and pride. Kapil Dev, weightlifter Karnam Malleswari, Vijender Singh, Sushil Kumar, veteran decathlete Gurbachan Randhawa and former squash champion Misha Grewal were the other Baton-bearers from India.
We also had four Baton-bearers from England — Olympic gold-medallists Lord Sebastian Coe and Dame Kelly Holmes, cricketer Monty Panesar and EAD table tennis star Sue Gilroy. It was heartening to see the awareness of how critical the success of the launch was for them and us.
It was a pleasure meeting Lord Coe, London 2012 Olympic Games Organising Committee Chairman. We had a brief exchange of how our preparations were coming along and what struck me was his statement that no host city ever undertook the task without being aware of challenges.
The launch and events around it, not to speak of the ceremony to hand over the Baton to Commonwealth Games England in the Houses of Parliament, set a precedent. It was a delight to receive a letter from the Queen’s office and another from Commonwealth Games Federation President Mr Michael Fennell appreciating the ceremony.
The success of events reinforced my confidence that we can do a great job of organising the Games. We know that there are 330 days left for the Games and we are aware that every moment is critical. With the blessings of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, with the active support of Union Urban Development Minister Mr S. Jaipal Reddy, Union Sports Minister Dr M. S. Gill and Chief Minister Smt Shiela Dikshit and with the active support of the people of Delhi, we will give our visitors a great experience.
Suresh Kalmadi is Chairman, Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi and has recently returned from the launch of the Queen’s Baton Relay at the Buckingham Palace in London.