Relay unites community

That the spirit was as bright as the sunshine was a fairly good indicator that the event was going to go extremely well.

It is not the first time the Border has hosted the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay, having gone through the region back when Melbourne was the host in 2006.

And of course before that came the Sydney Olympics torch relay of 2000.

It is often said that sport is something that divides us in our parochial passions for those we support and unites us in a shared love of getting involved in sport.

That’s regardless of whether we play, we volunteer to make sure things go smoothly behind-the-scenes or we simply love to watch what is going on.

That all came to the fore on Thursday when the baton relay hit town.

It was a happy event and one that no doubt those with the honour of carrying the baton enjoyed immensely.

One of those was someone who has been in the thick of the upper echelons of her sport throughout her career, yet the relay obviously carried a special kind of significance.

The fact that she proudly pointed out how her family had come along to support her shows just how much of an honour it was for Lauren Jackson.

Her delight truly was right on show.

“It’s a massive honour,” she said, “I’m so proud to be here. This is the part of my career where my career is really over and I get to enjoy the spoils of what I was able to achieve.”

But of course what makes the relay so significant is the way the event especially honours people from all walks of life, those who so often give without a thought for accolades.

For Wodonga’s David Milne, it was a wonderful way to recognise the work he has done over many years in coaching Australian Special Olympics teams, in sports ranging from bocce and basketball to track and field. To be a relay participant, he says, is “a dream come to true”.

Likewise, Wodonga teenager Sophie Weppner – a Wodonga Catholic College community leader – spoke of her combination of nerves and excitement.

All of those with the honour of being participants should be proud of their contribution to making the baton relay such a success. It certainly bodes well for how the wider community will embrace the 2018 games.