Year-long relay begins ahead of Games - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Year-long relay begins ahead of Games

14/03/2005 11:26:40 PM Comments (0)

The world's longest relay is now under way following the launch of the Queen's Baton Relay for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.

The baton relay was officially sent on its 180,000km journey by Queen Elizabeth at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London.

The high-tech baton contains a microchip message from the Queen to be played to the athletes at next year's Games.

To the strains of the Royal British Legion Band, Her Majesty handed the baton to the first celebrity runner, Australian supermodel Elle Macpherson.

Macpherson and Australian sporting legend Cathy Freeman then moved through an avenue of schoolchildren to the Palace gates.

Freeman took the baton and jogged through the Mall to the next change, to the newly-invested British Dame and Olympic track gold medallist Kelly Holmes.

The final change for British boxer Amir Khan takes the baton from Dame Kelly as far as Admiralty Arch.

The relay through all 71 Commonwealth nations will take 366 days, arriving for the opening of the $1.1 billion 2006 Games from March 15-26.

After a Commonwealth Day service in Westminster Abbey, the baton continues the first month-long leg of the journey in England on Tuesday.

Freeman, who is no longer competing on the athletics stage and has ruled out talk of a comeback, said she was proud to be part of the relay to attract visitors to Melbourne.

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