Former weightlifting champion Precious McKenzie relived his Commonwealth Games past on December 22nd carrying the Queen’s Baton at Settlers Village, Albany, Auckland, where he now lives.
The Queen’s Baton travelled through all 70 countries and territories of the Commonwealth as an inspiring symbol to connect the young people of the Commonwealth. With a distinctive loop design and made out of Australian native macadamia wood and recycled plastic, inside the baton is a ‘message to the Commonwealth and its athletes’ from the Queen, to be read at the Opening Ceremony of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April 2018.
New Zealand was the last stop on the Baton’s 230,000 km, 388 day global journey. It arrived in Queenstown on 18th December and travelled north to Auckland before it left on the 23rd December for Australia, in time for the 100 Day Games countdown.
Precious McKenzie said he is honoured and privileged to be part of the baton relay.
“When I was asked to be one of the people to carry the Queen’s Baton I immediately said yes and I feel very humbled and delighted to play a small part in its journey to Brisbane. My role also shows how the New Zealand Olympic Committee values legacy athletes like me who are carrying this important message, alongside many other competitors who are a lot younger.”
Settlers Albany, a lifestyle retirement village on the North Shore, held a special ceremony to welcome the baton. A crowd of residents and visitors clapped and cheered as the Precious McKenzie jogged into the Village, many of whom join his gym classes every week. The event even included a weight-lifting demonstration, a sport that he still loves at the age of 81, even though the weights are a lot smaller than in the past.
Chief executive of the New Zealand Olympic Committee Kereyn Smith was thrilled to have McKenzie as a baton bearer.
“He’s a fantastic athlete who inspired a generation of New Zealanders with his achievements on the world stage. It’s great to see he’s still so passionate about sport and we’ve loved working with him again.”
Precious McKenzie is one of the Commonwealth Games most famous and recognisable athletes. Born in South Africa he moved to the UK in 1964 and then to New Zealand following the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch. He has won more Commonwealth and World medals in his sport than perhaps any other sports person, competing in both the bantam and flyweight divisions. He won his fourth Commonwealth Gold representing New Zealand at the age of 42 at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada.
Photo credit: Richard Goodenough