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ARKIB : 10/03/1998

Queen Hands Over Games Baton


DATUK Punch Gunalan holds a silver and gold baton, which he received from Britain's Queen Elizabeth, as he started the relay from Buckingham Palace to Kuala Lumpur for the 16th Commonwealth Games in Malaysia.


LONDON March 9 - The first leg in the journey of the Commonwealth Games baton started in the forecourt of Buckingham palace today when the Queen, as head of the Commonwealth, handed over the specially designed silver baton to former badminton gold medallist Datuk Punch Gunalan.

The ceremony was unprecedented in the annals of the Games for its pomp and ceremony. It took place before a host of Commonwealth dignitaries, including Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) president Prince Edward, Youth and Sports Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, CGF chairman Michael Fennell, and chairman of the Kuala Lumpur 98 Games organising committee Tan Sri Hashim Ali.

Tourists arriving at the gate of Buckingham Palace were treated to a colourful spectacle of the ceremonial bunga manggar and the thunderous beating of two kompang groups accompanying the contingent from Malaysia, the Games' host country.

Malaysians Gunalan, Sylvia Ng, and Rashid Sidek, all badminton gold medallists in previous Games, led a team of runners who took the baton on the first leg of its journey from here to the Commonwealth Secretariat at Marlborough House, and then onwards to Kuala Lumpur.

Other athletes in the line-up were a number of past and future medallists, including Kenya's Kip Keino (athletics), Northern Ireland's Mary Peters (athletics), England's Nick Gillingham (swimming), and Scotland's David Wilkie (swimming).

With a ''hulubalang'' (warrior) by her side, a Malay princess, dressed in pink brocade kebaya and bearing the Games baton on a red cushion decorated with the Kuala Lumpur Games banner, approached the Queen while the kompang players raised spirits by their relentless drumming.

Hashim, representing the host country, presented the baton to the Queen who then handed it to Gunalan, the baton carrier in the first short baton run down the Mall to the Commonwealth Secretariat.

There the baton was received by Prince Edward and then handed over to Fennell.

The baton stayed at Marlborough House during Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeke Anyaoku's reception before it was taken to Manchester - host of Commonwealth Games 2002 - prior to its final journey to Malaysia.

Today's baton relay, coinciding with Commonwealth Day, was a continuation of the Commonwealth Games tradition begun in 1958 when two distinguished British runners Roger Bannister (the first man to run the four-minute mile) and Chris Chataway (gold medallist runner) took part.

Traditionally the baton, which carries the Queen's message to the Games, is designed to the specification of the host country.

Malaysia's silver baton, costing RM56,000, was designed as a stylised 'gobek', an implement used to pound the 'sireh' leaf and its accompanying ingredients before the mixture is chewed.

The 'gobek', handed over to guests with the 'sireh' leaf on their arrival at one's home, performed both a ceremonial and functional role, therefore symbolising hospitality.

The gobek baton, made of pure silver with hibiscus trimmings in gold, was crafted in Malaysia by Mariwasa Kraftangan Sdn Bhd. Six replicas of the baton were also made and will be presented to countries in the six global regions of the Commonwealth.

A spokesman of Games organisers Sukom Ninety Eight Bhd said here that the elaborate baton ceremony in the Palace courtyard was unprecedented and showed Malaysia's determination to make the 16th Commonwealth Games the best ever.

Earlier in the morning the baton was displayed informally to 1,000 school children gathered at the Commonwealth Institute where they also had the opportunity to learn about the Commonwealth from a permanent exhibition.

They were also able to raise their rackets against the combined might of Gunalan, Sylvia and Rashid.

The 16 kompang players who enlivened the atmosphere at the baton-handing ceremony and the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the 30 runners who accompanied the Malaysian and other Commonwealth athletes in the baton run, were recruited from among Malaysian students here.

Kongsi Konten di :

Waktu Solat Kuala Lumpur
 
Subuh 5:52
Zuhur 1:17
Asar 4:27
Maghrib 7:22
Isyak 8:32



 

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