Commonwealth baton to make first stop in Edinburgh

The Queens Commonwealth Baton is held by the Desi Bravehearts at Glasgow Airport as it left for it's journey around the world in October 2013. Pic: Robert Perry
The Queens Commonwealth Baton is held by the Desi Bravehearts at Glasgow Airport as it left for it's journey around the world in October 2013. Pic: Robert Perry
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THE Queen’s Baton will make its first Scottish port of call in the Capital ahead of this summer’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games, organisers have revealed.

After travelling the globe it will arrive in Scotland – and Edinburgh first – before the Games kick off on July 23.

The city centre, Riccarton, Meadowbank, Leith, Portobello, Duddingston, Newington and South Queensferry are all on the list of route destinations.

Key figures from the city’s athletics community hope it will boost interest in sport in the same way as the London Olympic torch relay did.

Runner Lynsey Sharp, who competes in the 800m and is making final preparations for this year’s event, said: “For Edinburgh to be included in the celebration is fantastic and hopefully it will help get people excited about the Games.”

Ms Sharp said she was particularly moved to see Meadowbank, which hosted the 1970 and 1986 Games, on the route. The venue was also her home training ground. She said: “It’s really great Meadowbank is on the baton route - that’s where I started and it’s pretty iconic for the Commonwealth Games and Scotland. The effect that the London 2012 relay had was incredible. Hopefully we can replicate that for Glasgow. It’s actually like a countdown to the Games – it really spreads the excitement.”

City leaders have also welcomed the announcement and said the baton’s passage would be accompanied by a number of sporting events. Councillor Steve Cardownie, festivals and events champion, said even though it’s a Glasgow games, Edinburgh is still benefiting.

He said: “Naturally, I am delighted that the baton’s first port of call should be here in Edinburgh and you can be sure that it will receive a fitting welcome from Scotland’s Capital City. We know already from the response to events running in our schools that there is a real appetite to embrace the Games and get involved.

“As an example, close to 2000 children have already signed up for a triathlon event in May, and we have much more to announce in the coming weeks and months. Edinburgh has such a rich Commonwealth Games heritage, having hosted the Games twice before, and we are thoroughly looking forward to playing our part this year when we welcome the diving competitions to the Royal Commonwealth Pool.” He added: “With Glasgow being only 40 miles away, I’m quite sure people will jump at chance to extend their trip to include our world famous summer festivals.”

Organisers have refused to reveal who will carry the baton. It contains a message to the Commonwealth written by the Queen which will be delivered at the opening ceremony.

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com