HUNDREDS turned out along the course that the Queen’s Baton took through Shepparton on Wednesday last week, to get a glimpse of the impressive baton and show their support for 15 local baton bearers.
Business people, school students and members of the community cheered on as the baton travelled the 4.5km through the city, which was just over the halfway mark (51 days) of its 100 day, 40,000km journey around Australia to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
But, this isn’t the first time locals have had the chance to glimpse a Queen’s Baton, with it having previously come through Shepparton during relays including the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay.
For local baton bearer, Rhonda Cator, who has represented Australia in Badminton at both Olympic and Commonwealth Games, the day brought her medal-winning memories back.
“The memories of my five Commonwealth Games and five bronze medals are flooding back as I carry the Queen’s Baton; to be involved and relive those special moments again is unreal.
“My friends from the Badminton Club where I have worked for the last 17 years surprised me today and came out to support me, as well as my loving parents who travelled to be here.
“I’ve been involved in Badminton since I was 14 years old, I’ve competed and worked in it, and it’s shaped me into the person that I am today.”
The final baton bearer who carried the baton to a special celebration at Victoria Park Lake, Michael Scandolera said he and the other baton bearers were humbled and honoured for being chosen for such an important task.
“The 15 of us are very blessed to have carried the baton. We are all extremely grateful and all enjoyed it,” Michael said.
“When the games begin I will definitely be watching the badminton. The Commonwealth Games level is exceptional. All of the athletes work so hard to get there and to play for Australia is an honour, so we’ll be watching them all.”
Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor, Cr Kim O’Keeffe said, “We are very privileged and honoured that the baton has visited our beautiful city.
“I would like to congratulate our local baton bearers who have carried the Queen’s Baton through to our local primary and high schools, the Maude Street Mall and here to the Victoria Park Lake, touching many members of our community as it visited each destination.
“These individuals were chosen to carry the baton for a range of reasons, including their significant contributions to sport, education, the arts, culture, charity or community, for achieving something extraordinary or for inspiring others to achieve something extraordinary, for having excelled or aspires to excel athletically or personally or for contributing to a fun, friendly, vibrant and inclusive community.
“Our baton bearers have shared the dream and carried the spirit of the games with pride, embracing the diversity and values of the Commonwealth. They will inspire others with their passion and commitment to sport and community and have contributed to the excitement of the world-class festival of sports and culture to come.”