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Rousing welcome for Queen's Baton in New Delhi

Jiby Kattakayam

Reaches host city after traversing 1,90,000 km


Olympian and Dronacharya awardee Satpal Singh runs in with the gold-plated baton

Baton will end its journey at the Opening Ceremony


— Photo: K. Murali Kumar

Grand reception:Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna (right), Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi (left) welcome the Queen's Baton Relay for the Commonwealth Games at the OC headquarters in New Delhi on Thursday.

NEW DELHI: After traversing 1,90,000 km across the world — 20,000 km of it through the Indian territory — the Queen's Baton Relay for the XIX Commonwealth Games reached the host city here on Thursday afternoon.

Olympian and Dronacharya awardee Satpal Singh ran in with the gold-plated baton into the Organising Committee headquarters at Jantar Mantar and handed it over to Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna, who in turn passed it on to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi received the baton from Ms. Dikshit.

Light-emitting diodes embedded on the baton lighted up in the pattern of the Indian tricolour.

Ms. Dikshit began her speech with a friendly dig at the OC chairman. “Our good friend Suresh Kalmadi needs a big bump and a big pat on his back,” she quipped, adding that all the agencies were trying their best to organise a good Games. “But only public participation can make them better.”

Confident of success

Mr. Khanna said he was always confident that the Games would be well organised as the participating teams at the international events held at the various venues a few months ago had given the “thumbs-up” to it.

An ebullient Mr. Kalmadi said the Capital can now boast a world-class airport, an extensive metro rail network and new arterial roads because of the Games.

“It is important to remember we hosted the last multi-event Games in 1982. Now all 71 countries have arrived in the Capital. Every team has said that it wants to stay in the village and not in a hotel.”

He requested Delhi citizens to cooperate in making the Games successful by not intruding into the dedicated Games lanes and showing better civic sense.

The function was followed by screening of a video of the baton passing through the country's 28 States and seven Union Territories. The video depicted athletes, politicians, bureaucrats and commoners holding the baton at religious institutions, beaches, archaeological sites and marketplaces, showcasing the geographical and cultural diversity of the country.

When the three theme songs of the Games were played alongside the baton video, the young OC employees rushed on to the stage followed by Ms. Dikshit, Mr. Khanna and Mr. Kalmadi, all of whom shook a leg and waved the baton lustily.

Worldwide journey

The baton entered the Capital from Haryana on Thursday morning. It started its worldwide journey on October 29 last, when Queen Elizabeth II handed it over to President Pratibha Patil in London. It reached India from Pakistan through the Wagah border on June 25.

On Friday, the baton will be taken to important landmarks such as Vijay Chowk, India Gate, Teen Murti Bhavan, Qutub Minar and Lotus Temple. On Saturday, it will make stops at Gurdwara Rakabganj, St. Columba's Cathedral and the Games Village.

The baton will culminate its journey at the Opening Ceremony at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Saturday. The honour of carrying the baton on its last lap into the stadium has been bestowed upon Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra.

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