READY TO ROLL: Queen Elizabeth II  passes the Commonwealth Games relay baton to retired gold medal cyclist Anna Meares at the launch of the relay at Buckingham Palace in London on Monday.
READY TO ROLL: Queen Elizabeth II passes the Commonwealth Games relay baton to retired gold medal cyclist Anna Meares at the launch of the relay at Buckingham Palace in London on Monday. AP

Meares takes baton's first steps to 2018

AUSTRALIAN stars Cody Simpson, Anna Meares and Kurt Fearnley helped the Queen launch the baton relay for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in an upbeat ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Monday's launch starts the countdown to the Games opening ceremony on April 4 next year.

Cheered on by the crowd, Fearnley carried the baton into the palace forecourt for the ceremony after the inspirational wheelchair racer was escorted up The Mall by the Band of the Scots Guards.

Meares was the first to take the baton after the Queen placed her traditional message inside, running it for a short distance before handing over to her great rival, English cyclist Victoria Pendleton.

The pair circled the Queen Victoria Monument before passing the baton to singer Cody Simpson.

He hopped into a brightly coloured Kombi van with a surfboard on top to take the baton to Westminster Abbey for a Commonwealth Day Service.

The baton will embark on a 388-day journey around all nations of the Commonwealth in the lead-up to the Games opening ceremony.

Ellen Whinnett


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