The Queen’s baton will arrive in Bermuda next week Sunday (May 22), according to Chef de Mission for the Commonwealth Games Donna Watson-Raynor.
According to Ms. Watson-Raynor, 72 countries in total will compete in this year’s Commonwealth Games, which this year will be held in Birmingham, England from July 28 to August 8. The Queen’s Baton is briefly passed through every country that is participating.
“ People take the baton into significant and historical spots around their country and then it is passed onto the next country in line,” Ms. Watson-Raynor said. “ After leaving Bermuda, it will be heading to Canada. When it has been passed through all of the [appropriate] countries, it will then be taken to the Commonwealth Games’ opening ceremonies.”
The baton will start its Bermudian journey in St. George’s and end the day at the Government House. On day two, the baton will be passed around several schools before going to the Cabinet grounds and the Opposition Leader’s office.
“ We are trying to get several people involved in this ceremony; Bermudian Olympic-medal winning boxer Clarence Hill will be receiving the baton at Gibb’s Hill lighthouse, and legendary footballer Clyde Best and Olympic diver Katura Horton-Perenchief will receive it at Somerset Bridge,” she explained.
According to Ms. Watson-Raynor, there are 16 spots available for Bermuda to compete in this year’s games, because each country that participates is given only a certain number of spots.
“ We have made sure that the standards [for our athletes to qualify] are very reasonable, but also that the athletes can be competitive, so we believe that we will be going to Birmingham with a quality team, which we are really excited for,” she said.
She added that hosting the Carifta Games in Bermuda a few times and hosting the first-ever USATF Bermuda Games last month has really prepared young athletes for the games later this summer.
“ We have highly decorated athletes, such as track star Jah-Nai Perenchief and record-breaking runner Caitlyn Bobb being a part of the Commonwealth Games as well,” she said. “ The Commonwealth Games is often the path that our athletes take before competing in the Olympics. We have swimmers, cyclist, triathletes [including Bermuda’s first Olympic gold medalist Flora Duffy], and maybe even a couple of squash players who will be competing in the games . . . it;s nice to see young athletes become a part of the senior Commonwealth team, because that’s where they need to be from a competitive standpoint.”
In Ms. Watson-Raynor’s opinion, Bermuda competes well above its weight in many areas and specifically in the field of sports. As a result, she is optimistic about Bermuda’s future in sports.
“ We’re opening up several doors that our young people can just walk into, be committed, have the discipline and I think that [they] can go far,” she said.
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