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Queen’s Baton soaks in sporting ambience in Pune

PUNE: Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi Chairman Mr. Suresh Kalmadi, MP, led the welcome of the Queen’s Baton 2010 Delhi in his home town at a grand ceremony at the Bharati Vidyapeeth here on Thursday afternoon. A large crowd, feasting on music and dance, and a float advocating the message of sport greeted the baton.

 

The baton was then taken on an open jeep through the streets of Pune through Saras Bagh, Tilak Chowk, FC Road and Fergussan College. Fire dancers, sword fighters and sports lovers lined up the roads, cheering the baton and the batonbearers. The convoy reached Balewadi Sports Complex at 18:00 hours where the relay concluded.

 

The Pune Municipal Corporation hosted a reception where Maharashtra Minister of State for Home Mr. Ramesh Bagwe, PMC Leader of Opposition Aba Bagul, former India cricket captain Chandu Borde, hockey star  Ajit Lakra, wrestling ace Harishchandra Birajdar, Davis Cup star Gaurav Natekar and others were present.

 

“It was a memorable experience,” said 76-year-old Borde. “One does not get to witness and experience such events every day. Cricket does not feature in the Commonwealth Games nor in the Olympics and yet I have been given an opportunity to hold the baton makes it extra special for me.”

 

Seven-time National tennis champion Natekar said it was truly a memorable evening for him as it brought back memories of big events. The Baton finished the day at the Balewadi Sports Complex.

 

Earlier, Shivaji University Vice Chancellor Mr. MM Salunkhe flagged off the baton’s journey from Kolhapur. It was welcomed in Sangli with much fanfare, children waving the Tricolour. This was followed by another ceremony at Watha on the border of Satara district. A short relay was organised in Karad, including local officials, sportspeople and a large group of NCC cadets.

 

In Satara, a 5km relay followed the welcome. The people were excited and children had lined up along the streets, showering flowers and playing musical instruments. The relay concluded at the Satara Stadium from where the baton headed for Pune.  En route, there were ceremonies at Gaurishankar Knowledge House, Vailatalenka and Shiral where the baton was garlanded by local officials and received by people with flowers and music.