Queen starts Commonwealth Games 2018 Baton Relay

Commonwealth Baton Relay
The Queen hands the Baton to Anna Meares. Photo: Twitter/RoyalFamily

The Queen has started the countdown to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games by launching the baton relay from Buckingham Palace ahead of the start of the games on 4 April next year.

Australian Paralympian Kurt Fearnley brought the baton to the palace before it was given to the Queen. After placing a message inside, the monarch then handed it on to his fellow countrywoman, two time Olympic champion cyclist Anna Meares.

She was joined by fellow Olympic cyclist, Team GB champion Victoria Pendleton, to start the first leg of the 388 day, 200,000 mile relay to host country Australia, passing through 71 countries on the way.

“Being a former athlete, the Commonwealth Games are very special,” said Meares. “They are something that you work very hard for, but you only get the chance to compete once every four years. When the Queen’s baton starts, you get a little flutter in your chest as you knew it was getting close.

“The Gold Coast, with its iconic beaches and the Australian lifestyle, they are just waiting and itching to welcome the world there. It is the biggest sporting event of the decade for our country and the anticipation is building.”

– Olympic champion cyclist, Anna Meares

Pendleton added: “It is an honour to be recognised and be asked to participate in something like this. There will be lots of people on the route who have volunteered… and it will be their way of connecting with the whole Commonwealth Games and what it means to people.

“It is the first time I have been part of a Queen’s baton relay so for me it was… a massive honour.”

Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill brought the baton into the Westminster Abbey at the start of the Commonwealth Ceremony which was attended by the Queen along with other members of the Royal Family.