Reception for The Queen's Baton Relay, Admiralty House
I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Cammeraygal People of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.
Good evening, all, and welcome to Admiralty House.
Linda and I are delighted to host you here this evening for this very special event.
As I look out into the audience I see many legends of Australian sport and many fit people! It is both inspiring and uplifting.
I can feel the excitement – it’s day 2 of the Queen’s Baton Relay, many of the Baton bearers are here, many others are doing their warm-ups, and we are just 132 days out from the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
It’s an exciting time for all in the Commonwealth and extremely fitting that the Games are being held in the United Kingdom in Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year.
When I think about the Commonwealth Games, so many images spring to mind. I don’t want to single anyone in the audience out, but some of you are front and centre of those images.
I have been asked if I have a favourite Commonwealth Games moment. Having reached the conclusion that just as a Governor-General can’t name his favourite place in Australia, nor can this Governor-General name his favourite Commonwealth Games moment! Truth be told, there are many.
One of them, from Gold Coast 2018, speaks loudly to sportsmanship.
At the end of the women’s 10,000 metres, three Australian athletes stayed on the track waiting for the final runner, Lineo Chaka from the southern African nation of Lesotho, to cross the finish line. It was Ms Chaka’s first attempt at the 10,000 metres.
The second last placegetter had completed her race more than three minutes before Ms Chaka entered the home strait on the final lap. The Australian girls clapped and cheered Ms Chaka home and embraced her once she had caught her breath.
The minutes spent waiting for Ms Chaka to finish and the subsequent welcoming embrace by the Australian athletes was a ‘moment’ that so wonderfully captured the spirit of the Games. It spoke to the power of sport to unite, inspire and uplift. As one of your mantras for Birmingham 2022 states: to be greater together.
And let’s not forget that we also performed pretty well in 2018!
Australia topped the medal tally with 198, including 80 Gold Medals, and there were many outstanding achievements by our athletes. They include Kurt Fearnley AO in the men’s T54 Marathon, Kathryn Mitchell in the Women’s Javelin, and our women in the 4 x 200 metres freestyle relay … and a host of others.
Less visible was the impact of these performances on young Australians watching on. This audience needs no reminding about the positive influence a sporting hero can have on one’s life path.
As Baton bearers for the 2022 Games you have been entrusted to carry the message of the Games forward. Thank you for your continued support of the Commonwealth Games movement and for spreading a message of friendship.
As Patron-in-Chief of Commonwealth Games Australia, I am very pleased to see the inclusive nature of the 2022 Games.
The Para-sport program is the biggest in Games’ history. Australia’s Para athletes are integrated with the team – Team Australia is one team. There are more events for women on the Games program than ever before. And, for the first time, the Australian Team will be led by a female Chef de Mission, Petria Thomas OAM.
Congratulations, Petria. You will be an outstanding Chef de Mission and well supported I’m sure by Anna Meares OAM, Sharelle McMahon, Katrina Webb OAM and Tim Mahon.
I am excited by the number of Australians who, regardless of their background, will be inspired to become involved in active sport as a result of the Queen’s Baton Relay and particularly the Games.
Tonight is a celebration.
To those carrying the Baton … congratulations, enjoy the moment. Thank you again for your outstanding contribution to sport and for your advocacy of all that it represents.
Please be careful while carrying the Baton – we’re all looking forward to hearing the Queen’s message on 28 July!
Linda and I hope to have an audience with Her Majesty during our upcoming official visit to the United Kingdom. We’ll be amongst the crowd at the Games’ Opening Ceremony and plan to attend as many events as possible in the available time.
Thank you, all, for being part of the ‘Friendly Games’.
And, with apologies to our Commonwealth partners, go Australia!