London, Oct 29: The Queen of England launched the Baton Relay at the Buckingham Palace on Thursday, Oct 29 and thus kick-start the official countdown to the mega event, 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
Queen Elizabeth II handed over the Baton to President Pratibha Patil, who passed it on to Sports Minister MS Gill, then to IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi, and finally to India's Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra.
The Baton Relay ceremony had the first performance by a South Asian classical dance group.
The 2010 Commonwealth Games will be India's first major international sports event after the 1982 Asian Games. New Delhi hosted the inaugural Asian Games in 1951 and again in 1982.
Some of the prominent sports personalities featuring in the list of torch bearers included shooter Abhinav Bindra, boxing sensation Vijender Singh, wrestler Sushil Kumar, Milkha Singh, Sania Mirza, Kapil Dev, Dilip Tirkey and Karnam Malleswari.
Sania Mirza said, "I am honoured to be among the chosen few and I am looking forward to represent India in CWG."
Speaking to reporters, Indian cricketer Kapil Dev termed the opportunity as a great honour. "It's a fantastic feeling and it's an honour," he said.
The Baton handed over by the Queen, will go on a journey across the world, visiting all the Commonwealth nations. After a journey of 340 days, the Baton will reach the Indian shores and go to all state capitals and some other cities.