Saturday, October 3, 2009

Olympic Medal Winner Abhinav Bindra to start baton relay

It’s pitched to be one of the longest relays in history. Come October 29 and Delhi will be starting what promises to be a long journey spanning over 1,90,000km — the Queen’s Baton Relay.

The baton, which carries a message to the athletes from the Queen of England and head of the Commonwealth nations, is an integral part of the Commonwealth Games. It has been crafted to reflect the ethos and characteristics of the host country: a combination of India’s culture and technological know-how with handcrafted elements fused into a precision engineered body. At the top of the baton is a jewellery box containing the Queen’s message, engraved in a miniature 18-carat gold leaf, representative of the ancient Indian ‘patras’.

The truly unique aspect of the baton though will be the GPS system fitted into it. The GPS will allow the progress of the baton to be viewed on the Games website as it goes through the 70 countries, capturing images and sounds on its journey. As the baton travels through a country, its light emitting diodes will take the colors of that country’s flag. To make the journey interactive, the design ensures that messages can be sent to the baton as well.

The baton’s journey will start on October 29, handed over by the Queen at Buckingham Palace to the first honorary baton-bearer, Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra. The baton, thereafter, is expected to go through the homes of one-third of the world’s population over 11 months or 340 days, through the smallest country in the Commonwealth — Malta — to the largest — Canada — and visiting the remotest, St Helena, accessible only through boat. The baton will finally reach JLN stadium for the opening ceremony of the XIX Commonwealth Games on October 3, 2010.