The only live exposure to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games I have witnessed in person was one small leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay on Tuesday, April 3 — day 99 of its journey across the world.
It was purely by chance, and I am eternally grateful.
I was staying with friends at Burleigh Heads, and we were out for breakfast on the beachfront, sitting next to four, tall, strong, athletic looking Australian Federal Police officers (sigh sigh).
They said they were there because the baton relay was about to pass.
It was exciting and infectious as we felt the sense of anticipation from the strangers who surrounded our table on the main drag.
As we sipped our cappuccinos I quickly grabbed my iPhone to check who we could expect to see and when. All of a sudden, we were part of the Games and felt connected.
Before long, my friends and I were holding small plastic Games flags as we stood on the shoreline staring out to sea. as that was from where the baton was coming.
Hovering above us in the patchy clouded sky was a white drone and two helicopters. It was windy, a reminder of the havoc Cyclone Iris was causing further north.
About 50 metres from, shore we saw a young girl with a shock of blonde hair sitting on a pink and yellow fluro surfboard. She quickly jumped into a standing position and we could see she was holding the baton as she rode her wave in.
TV cameras and onlookers positioned themselves to get close as 16-year-old pro-surfer Piper Harrison, winner of last year’s Queensland Open Women’s title, ran up the beach baton in hand.
It was as Piper came up the beach that I realised the significance of the passing of the baton, feeling the connection as she handed it onto Queensland’s under 14’s girls tennis champion, Hana Sonton, who in turn passed it over to skateboarder Jack Fardell.
Finally, Glynis Nunn-Cearns, former Australian Olympic heptathlete champion handed her symbolic treasure, to Peter Fleming as it continued its journey to Carrara.
I witnessed a spiritual moment where our modern, multicultural Commonwealth of today, young and old, embraced the symbolic baton of unity and how discrimination in any form, momentarily disappeared.
I have always been proud to be an Australian, but on this day, I truly felt it.
As a side note, for locals who are considering attending any of the events, I was impressed with the traffic management arrangements in the Gold Coast games precinct and surprisingly found it easy to get around via car.