Antigua and Barbuda is a small twin-island nation in the Caribbean, with a collective population of approximately 80,000. This was the third time the Queen’s Baton Relay had visited Antigua and Barbuda, showcasing the country’s fascinating heritage, tourist sites and friendly people – and the experience didn’t disappoint!
The baton was relayed on foot, passed from motorcyclist to horseman, from a boy on a donkey to quad bike riders. Everyone got involved, from school children to dancers of the Vitus Mask Group, and athletes past, present and of course, future – such as the road and track cyclist Tamiko Butler who hopes to compete at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games this summer.
In Antigua, the baton visited historical British navy sites such as Nelson’s Dockyard – named after Admiral Horatio Nelson who lived in this country from 1784–1787 – and the Shirley Heights vantage point, boasting stunning views of the harbour area.
Hilson Joseph completed an amazing12 hour journey with the relay through the capital of St John’s and across the island. Joseph managed this momentous effort all the while carrying a large Antigua and Barbuda flag. Known locally as ‘Flag Man’, he tries to support his country in every sporting event he possibly can. What an amazing feat of endurance!
After a short plane ride, the baton arrived in Barbuda where it explored caves in the Barbudan Highlands, and crossed the lagoon by boat to see one of the world’s largest colonies of frigate birds.
No trip to Antigua and Barbuda would be complete without meeting former West Indies cricketer Sir Vivian Richards. Known as ‘Master Blaster’, Sir Viv has streets and a stadium named after him, and is a cricketing legend not only in the Carribean, but across the world. He was extremely excited to see the Queen’s Baton Relay in his home country.
“To have the baton here means a lot for the athletes themselves, for them to see the things they need to do in order to achieve what they want in life. This may be part of their whole inspiration.
“I haven’t been to Glasgow since seeing football there in the 1970s. I had some great times in Scotland fishing with my great friend Ian Botham – you have the best salmon in the world!”
Antigua and Barbuda has yet to medal at the Commonwealth Games, but the welcome the Queen’s Baton Relay received in the country was certainly a gold medal performance!