Caption: L-R Batonbearers Laura Beardsmore, Ali Jawad, Nile Wilson and Norman Stephens outside Leeds Civic Hall.
With just under 100 days to go until the XX Commonwealth Games begins in Glasgow, Leeds today announced the six Batonbearers selected to carry the Queen’s Baton when it arrives in the city.
The Queen’s Baton Relay will tour Leeds on June 12, visiting local landmarks and acting as the centrepiece for events happening to celebrate the countdown to Glasgow 2014.
The six Batonbearers have been selected by an independent panel of sporting partners from across the city, in recognition of their contribution to sport and the community. They are:
Nile Wilson, 18, a gymnast at Leeds Gymnastics Club, from Leeds.*
Sophie Taylor, 18, a swimmer for the City of Leeds, from Harrogate.*
Laura Beardsmore, 27, from Horsforth, Leeds, a member of the British Aikido squad.*
Paralympic powerlifter Ali Jawad, 25, originally from Lebanon, who now lives Bramley, Leeds.*
Sports volunteer Charlie Sansome, 23, from Leeds.*
Sports volunteer, Norman Stephens, 74, from Leeds. *
(* See notes to editors for biography)
Dame Kelly Holmes, president of Commonwealth Games England
“Our England Batonbearers are going to play a crucial part when the Queen’s Baton Relay arrives in England on May 31.
“They have all been selected due to their passion for sport and the way in which they share this with their communities and look to get people involved and active.
“I’m encouraging everyone in Leeds to get involved when the Queen’s Baton Relay comes to your city – find out what event is taking place and if you can be there then please go and cheer on your Batonbearers and be part of the Team England send-off to Glasgow!”
The Batonbearers will carry the baton to a variety of events and activities to inspire and introduce young people to new sports, organised by Leeds City Council.
Events in Leeds will begin when the baton visits Headingley Carnegie Stadium, which will be hosting a talent identification session for pupils from secondary schools across the city.
Young people will get the chance to show their skills in rugby league, cricket and football, in a session being delivered in partnership with local professional clubs.
The celebration will then move on to the John Charles Centre for Sport for an afternoon of multi-sport activity.
Around 1,700 children will be trying out Commonwealth sports delivered in partnership with the national governing bodies.
The day will then conclude with a celebration evening at Leeds Civic Hall, wishing prospective athletes good luck for the Commonwealth Games and showcasing some of the city’s many sporting accomplishments.
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for leisure and skills, said:
“Excitement is really building for the visit of the Queen’s Baton Relay and the day is shaping up to be one of the key events in what is a landmark year for sport in Leeds.
“Our Batonbearers have been chosen because they represent wonderful examples of some of the things that make Leeds such a great sporting city and I’m sure they will do us proud as we play our part in this huge, global event.”
The baton will have visited 63 of 70 Commonwealth nations and territories when it arrives in the British Isles on Sunday, May 10.
Landing in Jersey, the baton then journeys through Guernsey, Isle of Man, embarks on a four-day tour of Northern Ireland and then spends a week in Wales.
It will arrive in England on May 31 to begin the penultimate leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay in Manchester, visiting 16 different locations en route to its final destination through Scotland and the start of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The XX Commonwealth Games takes place in Glasgow from July 23 to August 3. Commonwealth Games England is sending a 400-strong team to compete across the 17 sports.
Leeds City Council
Tel: 0113 224 3937
For more information, interview requests and details of media opportunities around the Queen’s Baton Relay please contact:
Tel: 07799 064676
or Lisa Harper
Tel:07940 301 514
Notes to Editors
Ali has always been fascinated by sport and all that it represents. This has led him to represent ParalympicsGB in powerlifting at Commonwealth, European, World and Paralympic Games, most notably the 2012 Paralympics.
The highlight of his career was gold at the Asian Open in 2013, with a new European and World record, becoming world ranked number one. He has come through adversity as he suffers from Crohns disease, which is incurable. His dream is to become the first Crohns sufferer to win Gold at any Olympics or Paralympics.
In 2013 Charlotte was the Community Secretary for Leeds University Union Women's Hockey Club (LUUWHC), and as such focused on trying to bridge the gap between the university and the community through sport.
In addition to organising events and sporting challenges for the club (raising over £6000 for SUDEP action), she also instigated a 'Helping Hand with Hockey' - a free coaching scheme for local primary schools.
The programme visited 8 schools, and Charlotte also organised a tournament. The aim was to increase children's interest in sport and give them a chance to play a sport they wouldn’t have otherwise had. The scheme is currently ongoing.
Laura has spent 16 years competing for Wharfedale, Leeds and Great Britain at national and international level Aikido. She won the World Individual Women's Randori title last year, following victory in 2011, becoming the first person in history to win back to back world titles.
By winning three gold medals at the 2013 World championships she is currently ranked fifth in the list of all-time British medal winners and third in gold medals.
Laura runs seminars for young people, especially girls, to encourage the transition from junior to senior level competition and she has recently submitted a proposal to manage the GB squad.
Nile is an up-and-coming young Gymnast training to make the Commonwealth Games England team. He is a Junior European all around silver medallist, the 2013 English and British Champion, and won three gold medals and a silver at the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF). He also competed for England at the World School Games in Brasilia wining six medals.
Nile was selected to be the flag bearer for Great Britain at the EYOF which she says was “an amazing experience and I was very privileged”.
He is very excited about being a baton bearer in the Queens Baton Relay.
Norman is a passionate supporter of sport. Between 1956 to 1965 he was a keen rugby league player and also a grade five registered RL referee officiating games up to professional level. He organised Ebor Swimming Club for over 30 years helping hundreds of East Leeds youngsters to learn to swim.
His greatest love for over 40 years is sailing and his passion is helping people of all backgrounds to experience this wonderful sport. He is a life member of Otley Sailing Club and has helped to raise over £50,000 to help disabled youngsters learn to sail through the SailFree scheme.
Sophie Taylor is a focused and determined young swimmer from the City of Leeds club. The 17-year-old set a senior British record in the 100m breaststroke in August last year at the World Junior Championships in Dubai, where she won two silver medals and a bronze. She also has two silvers and a bronze from the European Junior Championships.
Coming from a one parent family has made her very appreciative of the time and effort given by other people who have helped her achieve what she has.
Sophie believes being a baton bearer would be a big honour and is looking forward to representing both Leeds City Council and the City of Leeds Swimming Club in the Queens Baton Relay.
Commonwealth Games England
Commonwealth Games England (CGE) leads and manages the participation of the Team England at the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games. We are affiliated to the Commonwealth Games Federation and work closely with the various sports’ National Governing Bodies (NGBs), funding partners such as Sport England, our commercial sponsors and Organising Committees. Our purpose is to help develop athletes and their sports, and to achieve success at Games-time.