The Legacy of the Commonwealth Games lives on in Canada

Pride has rippled through Canada in the wake of the Queen’s Baton east-to-west-tour of the four cities to host a Commonwealth Games. Relayed through the hands of elite athlete alumni, the Baton’s visit commemorated Canada’s rich sporting heritage as the nation aspires to host future Commonwealth Games.

First held by Alexandra Orlando, the Baton brought vivid memories, and a hint at what’s to come at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018). At the Melbourne 2006 Games, Orlando won all six rhythmic gymnastics events – a feat which saw her join Ian Thorpe (2002, Manchester) as one of the few competitors to win six gold medals at a single Commonwealth Games. "I remember the stadiums were absolutely packed. I was at Rod Laver Arena and that was so mind blowing itself. Everyone is so enthusiastic about sport in Australia, even if they didn’t know anything about gymnastics, they’d come up to me and my Mum to ask a million questions. They really got behind it."

Following a short stop in Toronto, the Baton was formally received by the city of Hamilton, who hosted the inaugural Commonwealth Games in 1930. Here, the late MM ‘Bobby’ Robinson was acknowledged as the driving force behind the creation of the Games as the Baton made its way around the site of the original stadium carried by champion athletes from every decade.

The next stop was Edmonton, whose 1978 Games left a legacy of a sports-mad city that continues to stage regional, national and international events each year. On arrival, the Baton made a first quarter cameo appearance at a Friday night Canadian Football League game between the Edmonton Eskimos and BC Lions. The 38,000-strong crowd threw their hands high at the home team’s winning touchdown, but not before the Baton was retrieved from the stands! A further 3 million were watching on TV at home.

The pretty harbor city of Victoria, of the 1994 Games, started its mini Relay with the Mayor, Lisa Helps, who said:"I like to think of the Baton as a uniting gold thread that weaves the spirit of excellence, inclusion and diversity through the Commonwealth."

The Baton’s last stop in Canada was in Vancouver, which similarly engaged its legends of yesteryear to show the coming together of the past with the present, and Canada’s visceral connection to the Commonwealth and the Games. At the Jamaica 1966 Games Elaine ‘Mighty Mouse’ Tanner won four gold medals and three silvers, becoming the first woman to ever win four golds at a Commonwealth Games. For today’s still fit and sprightly Mighty Mouse, the honour of carrying the Queen’s Baton nearly 50 years since she last competed (at the Mexico 1968 Olympics) was a moving moment."Sport transcends us; it takes us around the world so that we can understand how others live. When we compete we share the commonality of excellence, that is what brings us together, these are the roots of the Commonwealth Games; it’s healthy competition, not divisive. And Australia! What a great place to host these next Games, my eyes will be glued to the TV screen next year."