LEEDS seized the chance to play a part in the build-up to the Commonwealth Games as the Queen’s Baton Relay rolled into town.
Hundreds of youngsters today (June 12) attended events at Headingley Carnegie Stadium and the John Charles Centre for Sport to mark the visit of the baton, which is criss-crossing the country ahead of the Games in Glasgow later this summer.
Batonbearers getting their hands on the sporting symbol in Leeds included boxing champ Nicola Adams, who did her bit during its stop-off at Burmantofts Amateur Boxing Club.
Nicola, from Ebor Gardens, said: “It’s a really good honour for Leeds and it’s great to carry it.”
City of Leeds swimmer Sophie Taylor was among the other batonbearers. Sophie, who is on the Team England squad for Glasgow, said: “It was an honour to represent Leeds as one of the city’s batonbearers and there was a real buzz about the Commonwealth Games, especially among all the young people who came along.
“Seeing so many people getting excited about sport gives you that extra bit of motivation heading into events like the Games.”
Another batonbearer, Paralympic powerlifter Ali Jawad, of Bramley, said: “It’s a great honour for me and I think it’s great for the whole city. It’s definitely better than being in the gym for 20 hours and I love coming out and being in the community.”
The events at Headingley and the John Charles site saw children from 80 schools trying out Commonwealth Games sports such as diving, cycling and rugby.
A celebration of the work of local athletes, coaches and volunteers is due to take place at Leeds Civic Hall tonight as part of the relay proceedings.
Coun Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills, said: “It’s been a privilege to welcome the Queen’s Baton to Leeds and to see so many young people getting involved in what has been a fantastic occasion.
“It has been a wonderful celebration of sport which has also given us a chance to showcase some of our top class facilities and the incredibly talented individuals we have in our city.
“Our batonbearers have done a brilliant job too, and have given all our athletes heading off to the Commonwealth Games the perfect send-off. I’m sure everyone in Leeds wishes them the best of luck.”
The baton contains a message from the Queen to the Commonwealth. It has visited dozens of countries during the run-up to the Games, which get under way on July 23.