LAHORE-Pakistan hosted the first leg of Queen’s Baton Relay event, which began from the Greater Iqbal Park and ended at Hazuri Bagh here on Monday.

Embodied with the message of peace and love, the Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR) of the Commonwealth games has reached Lahore, the heart of Pakistan. The programme is an important segment of Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. Sports stars of the country lifted the baton and walked while covering the distance from the Greater Iqbal Park to Huzuri Bagh.

The colorful and impressive ceremony was graced by Sports Minister Punjab Jahangir Khanzada, representing the Chief Minister Punjab, as chief guest while Australian High Commissioner Margaret Adamson, members of the High Commission from Lahore, Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) president Lt Gen (R) Syed Arif Hasan, Punjab secretary sports Nayyar Iqbal, Walled City of Lahore Authority director general and POA vice president Kamran Lashari, SBP director general Zulfiqar Ghumman, City School kids and management, the Commonwealth Games medalists, squash legend Jahangir Khan and former hockey Olympians, Col (r) Mudassar Asghar, Islahuddin Siddiqui, Manzoor-ul-Hassan Senior and others were also present on the occasion.

The QBR organising committee headed by Shaukat Javed, Syed M Abid Qadri, QBR organising committee deputy chairman POA secretary Khalid Mahmood, members of QBR organising committee, presidents and secretaries of national sports federations based at Lahore along with other dignitaries were also the part of this event.

The march commenced with Abdul Ghafoor, the oldest commonwealth’s weightlifting champion of the country, lifting the baton while squash legend Jahangir Khan completed it at the Lahore Fort, where a wonderful stage was set in the backdrop of the historic Huzoori Baagh.

POA chief Gen (r) Arif, who was the primary spokesperson designated by the Commonwealth Games Federation, welcomed the members of Queen’s Baton Relay team from Australia. He informed the audience that the Commonwealth is the home of 2.4 billion citizens and over 60 percent of these are under the age of 30. The Commonwealth Games charter recognise the importance of youth and advocates the use of sports in a manner, which links it to outcomes in youth development, help, education, gender equality and social cohesion.

According to him, the Commonwealth Games are the face of these policies and the Gold Coast Games has done a commendable job of ensuring these outcomes. He appreciated the most innovative School Connect Programme, where schools of Gold Coast are connected with schools of other countries. Two branches of City School, including DHA Alpha Campus and City School Islamabad, are connected to Tambourine High School and Clover Hill School respectively. This programme is a novel idea affording the children exchange information and make new friends which will go a long way in further promoting relations between Australia and Pakistan.

He also introduced the medalists of Commonwealth Games of the past weightlifter Abdul Ghafoor and particularly youngest and most recent gold medalists of Games wrestler M Inam and weightlifter Talha Talib.

Australian High Commission in Pakistan Ms Margaret Thomson thanked the CGA Pakistan, the QBR team, athletes and the officials of Punjab government for making excellent arrangements for the QBR Programme in a very congenial environment.

Her particular quote on the occasion is reproduced which reads: “I am pleased to welcome the arrival of the Gold Coast 2018 Queen’s Baton Relay to Pakistan and the historic city of Lahore. Our common love of sport is a powerful vehicle for building understanding between Australia and Pakistan, particularly among our youth. I encourage all to embrace the spirit of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and wish team Pakistan the very best of luck next April.”

Welcoming the QBR team, chief guest Sports Minister Punjab Jahangir Khanzada said future belongs to youth and using sports as the driving force, they have the power to change the world in many ways. The youth is the most precious asset of every country.

“Pakistan Olympic Association deserves my special appreciation for making excellent arrangements for the QBR Programme, which will sufficiently showcase the soft image of Pakistan and Pakistanis as the peaceful nation. My special thanks to the children of City School for their tremendous participation in the activities of the QBR. I am also grateful to High Commissioner of Australia for travelling all the way from Islamabad to be with us here today.”

 

 

 

Australian High Commissioner in Pakistan Margaret Adamson tells Sports Minister Punjab Jahangir Khanzada about the salient features of the Queen’s Baton while Pakistan sports champions hold the baton on its arrival to the city.–Staff photos