The Queen’s Baton which is making its journey through Guyana en-route to the 19th Commonwealth Games in India was relayed across Georgetown in style yesterday.
President Bharrat Jagdeo was the first to move off with the regal wand after collecting it from Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) KA Juman Yassin, the Commonwealth Games Committee (CGC) representatives – Vice-President John Hoskins, Di Henry (Maxxam) Organising Committee Consultant, Organising Secretary of the CGC Subie Issac, Raj Kadyan, Baldew Singh and photographer Shiv Raj.
There was steel pan playing sweet renditions of soca and calypso music as the Head of State, decked in his 2010 Commonwealth Games jersey and other sports attire, made his way down Main Street from State House.
Looking very athletic, President Jagdeo, his bodyguards and President of the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) K. Juman Yassin, made their way to the waiting Minister of Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony.
Dr. Anthony was handed the Baton by His Excellency and after a pause for a photo opportunity, Minister Anthony sped away before handing the Baton over to the students of Bishops’ High School. By this time, a curious Guyanese crowd had started to line the roadways where the torch was passing. But the fanfare really started when the Baton reached the hands of Commissioner of Police Henry Greene.
The Guyana Police Force showed its class as the Mounted Branch, along with its Athletics Club and Musical arm, added real colour to the long relay that picked up further momentum upon reaching an exciting bunch of pupils of the Queen’s College Secondary School.
It was there that the Commonwealth Games mascot ‘Shera’ the Royal Bengal Tiger, made its presence felt as the students flocked around the enthusiastic character.
Just when `Shera’ thought he had seen it all, the Queen’s Baton stopped in front of St Margaret’s Primary School where the students and teachers chanted “pass it on for the Commonwealth Games.” ‘Shera’ was mobbed by the students who seemed more interested in meeting the personality whose likeness is that of the famous endangered tiger sub-specie.
The stately object then made its way through the Indian Monument Gardens where lay the Whitby; the ship used to bring Guyana’s first set of Indian indentured labourers.
The Baton was carried by Chairman of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) Yesu Persaud who was accompanied by Leader of the Justice For all Party, C.N Sharma who also bore the Baton for some time on Camp Street.
Indian High Commissio-ner to Guyana, Subit Mandal’s leg of the relay bore a lot of significance since his country will host the games which start on October 3 in Delhi. Another notable stage of the relay was when the members of Guyana’s Seven’s Rugby team, who will be representing Guyana at the event, had their opportunity to carry the Baton.
The first time the Queen’s Baton was relayed through Guyana was in 2006 and the event this time around speaks of the GOA’s attempt to make it’s only stay on the Continent of South America an unforgettable experience.
Hundreds of schoolchildren lined the route of the Baton and were very much part of the proceedings but again, ‘Shera’ the Tiger had a field day with the children of Stella Maris Primary School on Woodford Avenue.
After passing through the hands of some of Guyana’s well known sports personality and also making a stop at the CARICOM Secretariat, the Baton’s last stay in the district of Demerara Mahaica was at the University of Guyana.
The Baton was then whisked away to the Ancient County where a cyclist took it from the western end of the Berbice River Bridge to New Amsterdam. Meanwhile, at a gala reception held at the Umana Yana on Thursday evening, President Jagdeo had expressed his delight at having the Baton in Guyana which he deemed a symbolic figure for unity.
High Commissioner Mandal also assured the gathering about the satisfactory progress of construction works in India as well as India’s ability to stage the Games with complete security to all delegates and visitors.