India handed over Commonwealth Games baton in London

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London, Oct 29(ANI): Visiting Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil was on Thursday handed over the Queen's Baton by Queen Elizabeth II, signaling the formal launch of the Commonwealth Games that is to take place in New Delhi in October next year.

The handing over of the Queen's Baton was done in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. A splendid cultural ceremony, reflecting Indian culture, especially through its classical dances, formed part of the landmark event.

After the formal handover ceremony, the baton was given to India's Sports Minister M.S. Gill, who in turn, handed it over to 2010 Games Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi. Kalmadi and Indian ace shooter Abhinav Bindra then jointly took it down red-carpeted steps and handed it over to former ace British middle distance runner and now Chairman of the organizing committee of the 2012 London Olympic Games Sebastian Coe. They and 12 other Indian sporting personalities, including Milkha Singh and Sania Mirza, set off on a relay run that will end when it reaches Delhi next year.

Besides them, the other Baton-bearers included cricketer Kapil Dev, the queen of Indian track and field P.T. Usha, Sydney Olympic bronze medallist Karnam Malleswari, boxer Vijender Kumar, legendary athlete Gurbachan Singh Randhawa, Olympic bronze medallist Sushil Kumar, badminton player Prakash Padukone, squash champion Misha Grewal Soni, and hockey player Dilip Tirkey.

The baton will cover over 190,000 km across Commonwealth countries over 340 days and will come to India on June 25. It will also be one of the longest relays in the history of the Commonwealth Games.

It will reach Delhi on October 3, 2010, when the Queen's words will be read aloud at the opening ceremony.

The Baton Relay is one of the great traditions of the Commonwealth Games.

The Queen's Baton Relay, similar to the Olympic Torch Relay, is a relay around the world held prior to the beginning of the Commonwealth Games.

The Relay traditionally begins at Buckingham Palace in London as a part of the city's Commonwealth Day festivities. The Queen ntrusts the baton to the first relay runner. At the Opening Ceremony of the Games, the final relay runner hands the baton ack to the Queen or her representative, who reads the message aloud to officially open the Games. (ANI)

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