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Cox first to carry Queen's Baton as Birmingham 2022 Relay launched at Buckingham Palace

By Philip Barker
Athletics Birmingham 2022 mascot Perry was among the interested spectators at Buckingham Palace ©Getty Images
OCT 8, 2021 LISTEN
Birmingham 2022 mascot Perry was among the interested spectators at Buckingham Palace ©Getty Images

Little more than a month after winning double Paralympic cycling gold in Tokyo, Kadeena Cox has received the ceremonial Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Baton from the Queen in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Cox was the first of more than 7,500 Batonbearers in a journey which is scheduled to visit all 72 Commonwealth nations and territories in a journey lasting 294 days.

Cox was the first Para athlete to launch the Relay, although Australia’s wheelchair marathoner Kurt Fearnley delivered the baton to Buckingham Palace before Anna Meares began the Relay for the Gold Coast four years ago.

The Queen, who is patron of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), placed her message of greeting to the athletes inside the Baton after a short ceremony in front of the Palace.

The Queen was joined by the Earl of Wessex, the CGF's vice-patron, and CGF President Dame Louise Martin.

Cox took the Baton to the Centre Gate of Buckingham Palace, where it was passed to 2018 squash bronze medallist Declan James and Olympic and Commonwealth middleweight boxing champion Lauren Price to be taken around the Queen Victoria Memorial.

Paralympic and Commonwealth swimming champion Alice Tai, Gold Coast 2018 balance beam champion Alice Kinsella, Olympic hockey bronze medallist Sarah Robertson and world cycling bronze medallist Mark Downey also carried the Baton along the Mall.

The Bearers reflected the four home countries of the British Isles, with Downey from Northern Ireland, Robertson, Price Welsh and the others English.

"It was an absolute honour to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime event," Cox said.

"Receiving the Queen’s Baton from Her Majesty The Queen was a moment I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life.

"It was also a privilege to share this special moment alongside six other incredible athletes from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It’s so exciting to think that this Baton will now travel across the Commonwealth, where other inspirational individuals will become Batonbearers in their own communities."

The Baton had arrived in the custody of a group of Birmingham 2022 "Hometown Heroes", chosen for their contribution to grassroots sport in the West Midlands as volunteers, coaches and managers.

They were accompanied by a military band drawn from the three services.

As the Royal Standard flew above Buckingham Palace, the Queen and the Earl of Wessex were introduced to the group of young designers who conceived and manufactured the Baton, which is said to be inspired by the Queen herself.

For this reason, the Baton features a strand of platinum, to mark the 70th anniversary of her accession.

It has been made from the non-precious medals of brass, aluminium and copper in tribute to the gold, silver and bronze medals at the Games.

Since 2002, when the Baton first included a heart-rate monitor, the design has incorporated a range of technological features and this year it includes the capacity to record atmospheric conditions and air quality.

A performance by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra was streamed live into the ceremony and secondary school teacher Casey Bailey, Birmingham’s current poet laureate, recited an original poem.

Birmingham-based acapella group Black Voices sang to bring the ceremony to an end.

The Baton is scheduled to return to the host nation on July 4.

Buckingham Palace has not yet confirmed who will read the message at the Opening Ceremony on July 28.

Since 1958, it has been a member of the Royal Family.

If the Queen does so, the message will officially be known as an "address".

CGF President Dame Louise said today was "a very important day for Commonwealth sport"

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