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QBR accorded rousing reception

Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Queen's Baton Relay (QBR) of the Commonwealth Games was accorded a rousing reception as it touched Kerala on a four-day journey of the State on Thursday.

At the main function held at the Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium, the Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan received the baton from Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna winner K.M. Beenamol in the presence of the Sports Minister M. Vijayakumar and a host of dignitaries.

Beenamol was the last runner as the baton was taken around the city and received cheerfully by the citizens at various points. The baton was carried by Arjuna Award winners, internationals and key sports officials as it made its way through the Chandrasekharan Nair stadium. The Chief Minister, in turn, handed the baton back to the Commonwealth Games QBR team leader, V.N. Singh for its onward journey to Lakshadweep on Friday. The QBR will return to Kochi on Saturday and will be in the State until August 31 before it re-enters Tamil Nadu via Wayanad.

The evening's programme commenced with the presentation of a theme song, prepared for the occasion by the Department of Information and Public Relations and rendered by playback singer Shankar Mahadevan.

Mr. Vijayakumar said it was only incidental that the State was celebrating 2010 as the ‘Year of Sport' when India was hosting its first major multi-discipline Games since the 1982 Asian Games. Underlining the various programmes initiated by the Government for the promotion of sports and games in the State, the Minister also hoped that the results which would come to the fore in the none too distant future will also help the country to emerge a strong force in the international arena. In his brief address, Mr. Achuthanandan hoped that the country would be able to uphold its prestige in the global arena by smoothly hosting the Commonwealth Games.

“It is also my firm belief that these Games would also help the country to motivate its youth to take up sports and games in a big way. Kerala is looking forward to these Games with anticipation and hopes that our athletes will be able to excel in the various disciplines.”

The Chief Minister also released a special first day cover, prepared by the Department of Posts to commemorate the QBR's journey in Kerala, and the brochure, ‘Sporting Kerala' published by the Kerala State Sports Council. Earlier in the morning, the QBR was received by the Sports Minister at a well attended function in Kalliyikavilla, at the border, as it entered Kerala from Tamil Nadu.

Mr. Vijayakumar received the baton from the QBR team leader, V.N. Singh and then in turn handed it over to Olympian Suresh Babu, who was the first runner to set in motion of the almost six-hour long relay.

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