THE Queen’s Baton Relay tour was celebrated in style with various traditional dances in the villages of Matelile in Mafeteng district during the weekend.
The Relay is a tour around the world held prior to the Commonwealth Games, and traditionally begins at Buckingham Palace in London.
Head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II entrusts the baton, with a message she would read at the opening ceremony of the Games, to the first relay runner.
It will arrive on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia for the opening ceremony of the Games on the 4 April 2018.
The Lesotho celebrations continued yesterday at the Lepereng OlympiAfrica Centre where different schools in the vicinity engaged in different sporting activities.
The celebrations will end with a gala dinner at Avani Maseru Hotel this evening.
This is the fourth time Lesotho is participating in the celebration since 2005 ahead of the 2006 Melbourne (Australia) Games, 2009 ahead of the 2010 New Delhi Games (India) and in 2013 ahead of the 2014 Glasgow (Scotland) Games.
His Majesty, King Letsie III received the baton on Thursday and expressed his delight at the country’s opportunity to receive it yet again.
“It is a great pleasure for me to welcome the Queen’s and we are delighted to get an opportunity to yet again see the baton in Lesotho while it is on relay among the Commonwealth member states to its destination, the Gold Coast where the games will be held next year,” His Majesty said.
“I welcome the president of the Commonwealth Federation Ms Lewis Marton to Lesotho and the fact that you are accompanying the baton signifies to us the importance the Commonwealth attaches to the games and to this precursor activity that seeks to bind us together as the Commonwealth family.
“During its three-day stay in Lesotho we will be afforded a chance to showcase our scenic countryside to our guest and interesting routes that extend to Matelile have been chosen.
“The communities and school children will have an opportunity to interact with the team accompanying the baton. This will hopefully inspire our youth to seek to achieve higher levels in sports and ensure that the relay leaves some tangible legacies in our communities.”
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Games Association of Lesotho chief executive officer Morake Raleaka said Team Lesotho had commenced preparations for the games.
Raleaka told the Sunday Express in an exclusive interview on Thursday that the country will be represented in boxing, athletics, weightlifting and cycling in the Games while the National Paralympics Committee of Lesotho are yet to submit the sporting codes they will compete in.
“There are certain sporting codes that require qualification and we sent athletes to the weightlifting competition in South Africa where they did very well to bring home a silver medal.
“But all in all we will be competing in boxing, cycling, athletics and weightlifting,” Raleaka said.
“Our teams have started preparations and the cycling team is in Mauritius.
They are ranked second in Africa and we hope they will do well and gain enough points to push them to the top spot although it is not going to be easy as South Africa is also doing well. There are also different athletics competitions our athletes will be taking part in.”
He said they had also secured a training venue at the Lehakoe gymnasium and the team have been training there except for the athletics team.
He said this was because the Lesotho Athletics Amateur Association was still to finalise the list of athletes.