Commonwealth and Paralympic Games star Sophie Pascoe was greeted by a mob of cheering fans as she carried the Queen’s Baton into Jellie Park Pool in Christchurch this morning.
Around 60 kids from the swimming community turned out to see Pascoe and learn about the Baton which is travelling around the country to celebrate the upcoming Gold Coast Commonwealth Games (April 4 - 16 2018).
The two time Glasgow 2014 gold medal winner told the crowd that the Baton symbolises what she’s working to achieve at the Gold Coast 2018 Games.
“It’s awesome to have the Queen’s Baton here and it means a lot, not just to the athletes but the supporters and support staff as well. It’s a huge inspiration for us and the spirit that it holds for sport is amazing.”
With just over 100 days to Gold Coast 2018 Pascoe said she’s in a heavy training phase.
“It’s really just grinding away at the moment until we get to a taper stage next year. I know there’s quite a bit of work to do but I’m definitely tracking along quite nicely.”
The Baton was then taken to the site of the Queen Elizabeth the Second Stadium (QEll) where it was carried by legendary middle distance runner Dick Tayler.
Tayler created New Zealand sporting history when he won gold in the men’s 10,000m on the opening day of the Christchurch 1974 Commonwealth Games.
“It’s still hard to believe sometimes that it was me that did it as a young Kiwi. There was a world record holder in the race but I had the best coach in the world in Arthur Lydiard and I was a Kiwi and I was at home and I’d never trained so hard in my life.”
Tayler suffered a major health scare earlier this year and said it was great to be able to return to the QEll site.
“I’ve been through a bit of a battle, I had a cardiac arrest back in June, had a major and went without oxygen for 15 minutes so there’s been a few issues around that but I’m still here and it’s been special being here today.”
The Baton was also hosted at a function by Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel which was attended by dignitaries and around a dozen current and legacy athletes.
Dalziel said that hosting another Commonwealth Games in Christchurch could be on the cards.
“It was an ambition before the earthquakes happened and now we’re building band new facilities and that does open up some possibilities.”
The Baton now travels to Auckland and will tomorrow attend a men’s artistic gymnastic selection announcement. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will also be in attendance.Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Dick Tayler Sophie Pascoe