A showcase of sporting talent has welcomed the iconic Queen’s Baton Relay to Lisburn & Castlereagh as the baton finished the last leg of its tour in Northern Ireland ahead of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia in April 2018.
Commonwealth hopefuls demonstrated their sporting prowess at Lagan Valley LeisurePlex to a team of delegates from the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council, including their Patron and Commonwealth Gold Medallist, Dame Mary Peters. Demonstrations included the sports of taekwondo, wrestling and fencing, with a number of the athletes taking part hoping to be selected for the Games in 2018.
The Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Councillor Tim Morrow was delighted to welcome the Queen’s Baton Relay: “The Council is pleased to receive the Queen’s Baton Relay as it ends the Northern Ireland relay leg, following its launch earlier in the year by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace.
“While the baton relay represents an important call for Commonwealth athletes to join the competition, the Council welcomes the opportunity to work in partnership with the Commonwealth Games Council and the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council to celebrate sport and culture in our local communities.
“I would like to wish all our local athletes who have been selected or who hope to be selected in the near future every success for the Games.”
The Chairman of the Council’s Leisure & Community Development Committee, Alderman James Tinsley added, “Lisburn & Castlereagh has a proud history of sporting success with many athletes representing their sport on an international stage, including Northern Ireland’s most successful athlete, Dame Mary Peters.
“Achievements in sport are sustained by a strong sports club network as well as continuous support from family members. Sport Lisburn & Castlereagh has also played an instrumental role providing Council funding to individuals and clubs so they can train and compete to reach their goals.
“In the previous Commonwealth Games, over 30 athletes from Lisburn & Castlereagh represented Northern Ireland and I am confident that similar numbers will be competing at the Gold Coast Games next year.
“Finally I would like to thank the young people for taking the time to demonstrate their sporting talent and I hope their passion and dedication will encourage others to participate in sport and promote healthier lifestyles in Lisburn & Castlereagh.”
During the tour, the baton will visit 70 nations, travelling 230,000km by land, sea and air before finishing its final journey at the Opening Ceremony at the Gold Coast on April 4. The baton, which was designed by the host nation has a distinctive loop design using a combination of macadamia wood and reclaimed plastic.
Robert McVeigh, Chairman of Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council (NICGC), said: “On behalf of NICGC, we are delighted to #sharethedream and welcome the Queen’s Baton Relay for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018 to Northern Ireland. The baton has visited a range of iconic locations as well as being seen by many young, aspiring athletes from across the country. The Queen’s Baton Relay is not only a fantastic opportunity to showcase our wonderful country, as the visit to Northern Ireland will be shared with millions of people across the Commonwealth countries, but will help build excitement as we move towards selecting TeamNI in January 2018 for Gold Coast in April.”