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UPCOMING OLYMPIC GAMES

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The Gold Coast 2018 Queen’s Baton is bound for the Caribbean following the completion of its journey across Africa.

 

Having visited 18 African nations over the course of a two-month period, the first port of call in the Caribbean for the Baton is Trinidad and Tobago from May 28 to 31.

Its trip across the region is due to conclude with a five-day visit to the Cayman Islands from July 14 to 18.

The Baton will then head to the Americas, starting in The Bahamas from July 18 to 24.

The final leg of the African tour took place in South Africa, where Olympic gold medal-winning marathon runner Josia Thugwane carried the Baton in his home province of Mpumalanga.

Thugwane, who became the first black South African athlete to top an Olympic podium with victory at Atlanta 1996, spent four days taking it to communities and schools across the country.

"When I was young, I never thought anyone would know my name," he said.

"I grew up in a poor family.

"If these young kids see my face here, they know that they can prepare like I did for the next Games.

"It’s been 21 years since I won the gold medal.

"So I feel very happy that the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee still remembers me and has asked me to come to my province to show the young kids this Baton from Gold Coast 2018.

"I think South Africa is going to do well at Gold Coast 2018, especially in track and field, I see now they are coming very strong there.

"But the marathon is still very difficult; to buy competition shoes is very expensive."

While in South Africa, the Baton visited a number of scenic sites, including God’s Window and Three Rondavels in Thaba Chweu and the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga.

It also spent time at Mbombela Stadium, which hosted matches during the 2010 FIFA World Cup

Furthermore, the Baton was welcomed by various cultural groups with dance, song and poetry.

The Gold Coast 2018 Baton Relay began at Buckingham Palace in London at the start of March, before heading to Sierra Leone, Ghana and Rwanda.

Uganda, Cameroon, Nigeria and Kenya were the next countries visited, before the Baton headed to Tanzania, Seychelles, Mauritius, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho.

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