London’s iconic Millennium Bridge transformed into field of play as sporting stars kick off Glasgow 2014’s Commonwealth Games countdown celebrations.

Sporting stars Sir Chris Hoy, Rebecca Adlington and Louis Smith joined a host of young athletes on Saturday, as Glasgow 2014 hosted a unique sporting takeover of London’s iconic Millennium Bridge, to celebrate the countdown to next month’s Commonwealth Games.  The celebrations were timed to welcome the arrival of the Queen’s Baton to London as part of its 198,000km journey across the Commonwealth, visiting all 70 nations and territories to build excitement ahead of one of the world’s great multi-sports Games.

The Queen’s Baton – a unique symbol of the Commonwealth Games which contains a special message from Her Majesty the Queen to the athletes of the Commonwealth -arrived at the Millennium Bridge on the Queen’s Official Barge, the Gloriana, to be greeted by youngsters taking place in a showcase of Commonwealth sports including cycling, gymnastics and boxing.

The event featured Olympic silver medallist and Team England hopeful in this summer’s games, Louis Smith MBE, performing on a high bar balanced over the Thames River.

Louis Smith was joined by Glasgow 2014 ambassadors, Sir Chris Hoy and Rebecca Adlington, official Queen’s Baton bearers from Lambeth and more than 55 pupils from local schools, who took part in fun coaching sessions on one of the UK’s most famous landmarks.

Yesterday, the Queen’s Baton travelled to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park where a full sports participation day was hosted and open to the public.

When it reaches Scotland on June 14, the baton will embark on a 40-day journey through 400 communities across Scotland. Up to 4,000 people will carry Her Majesty’s message, before it is read aloud at the Opening Ceremony on July 23, 2014.

Lord Smith of Kelvin KT, Glasgow 2014 Chairman, said:

“This is a thrilling moment for the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee and Commonwealth Games England. With the Queen’s Baton travelling through London this weekend, through England next week and making its way back to Scotland a week today, the final countdown to the Games has well and truly begun.  The event on the Millennium Bridge today has been a superb way to celebrate the arrival of the Queen’s Baton back to the great sporting city of London and showcase the sports and excitement we have to look forward to in just six weeks’ time. The stage is set, Glasgow and Scotland are gearing up to welcome the athletes of the Commonwealth and to host a great sporting and cultural festival. Our goal is to deliver the best Commonwealth Games ever and we’re ready to welcome the world.”

Glasgow 2014 Ambassador, Sir Chris Hoy, said:

“It’s been an honour to take part in such a unique event here in London. There is so much excitement for the Games right across the country. With the arrival of the Queen’s Baton in to London, just a week before it’s homecoming in to Scotland, the UK’s next major sporting event is starting to feel very real.  I’ll be in Glasgow cheering on the athletes, and I hope everyone else will be too.”

Sir Andrew Foster, Chairman of Commonwealth Games England, said:

“It’s really exciting to mark the halfway point of the Queen’s baton journey in England with this spectacular event. It is part of a stunning weekend of events in London that show the power of the baton to unite and excite communities and stimulate involvement in sport”.

Glasgow 2014 hopeful, Louis Smith MBE, said:

“I’ve obviously got my fingers crossed that I’ll be competing in Glasgow next month, I’ve put the work in and now it’s just down to the selectors. Today’s event has been great fun and performing on top of the parallel bars overlooking the Thames has definitely been different! To everyone already going to Glasgow I’m confident that the Games will be a great event and it’s exciting to have a sporting event of this scale back in the UK.”

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