TOPICS: Newcastle’s slice of the Commonwealth Games as Queen’s baton relay participants named

ANNOUNCEMENT: Kurt Fearnley at Buckingham Palace earlier this year. Picture: AAP

“MATE, don’t call it a torch, you’ll get dragged over hot coals for doing that,” was how three-time Paralympic gold medallist Kurt Fearnley opened his interview,as Topics recoiled, embarrassed by our Commonwealth Games faux pas.

Turns out it’s not a torch at all, it’s a baton. And it’s serious business that involves a message penned by the Queen herself.

Twenty-four Hunter people have been bestowed the high honour of carrying the baton through the region, as part of the Queen’s Baton Relay for the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast next year.

Among the lucky batonbearers areFearnley and other sportspeople including ex-Knight Alex McKinnon, wheelchair athlete Christie Dawes, swimmer Maddi Elliott and surfer Jade Wheatley.

The baton relay took off from Buckingham Palace in March and is currently in Malaysia.

It will visit 15 Commonwealth nationsbefore arriving in on Christmas Eve. From there, it will embark on a 100-day journey, visiting 83 towns and cities, ahead of landing in the Gold Coast in time for the April opening ceremony.

HUGE HONOUR: Christie Dawes is among the Hunter’s batonbearers.

Fearnley said it was “awesome” to bring a slice of the Games to Newcastle.

“I’ve been racing for 20 years and next year on the Gold Coast looks like it will be my last competition for ,” he said.

“It’s all just part of building for that moment. If I getto share a bit of Commonwealth Games with Newcastle, that’s great.”

Paralympian Christie Dawes is due to give birth around the time the relay arrives on n shores.

She’s hoping the baby holds off a few days so she can take part in the “huge honour”.

“It’s not something to be scoffed at,” she said. “How many times do you get to carry the batonfor a major event? It’s a huge honour.”

The baton is designed to capture the “boundless energy” of the Gold Coast and is a symbol of the coastal city’s past, present and future.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the batonbearer’s were“a great reflection of ”.

GAMES: Commonwealth Games chairman Peter Beattie with the baton.

“The batonbearers recognise the achievements and aspirations of ns from all walks of life, from ambitious 10-year-olds to humble volunteers and well-known ns from a variety of fields,” she said.

“Collectively, our batonbearers will take more than a million steps through every state and territory, sharing the excitement of GC2018 with regional and remote communities.”

The Games take place between April 4 and 15 next year. More than 70 nations and territories will be represented.

A Queen’s message inside the baton will be read out at the opening ceremony.

Hunter’s batonbearersBrett Austine, Marks PointChristie Dawes, MerewetherJye Dinsdale, Caves BeachMaddi Elliott, Gillieston HeightsKurt Fearnley, HamiltonSusanna Gourlay, Newcastle EastMatthew Gray, Boat HarbourCarole Hooper, New LambtonIan Ingle, MuswellbrookPhill Johnson, AdamstownPeter Kilborn, MirrabookaMichelle Lawson, ThorntonAlex McKinnon, LambtonJessica Norris, BurleighJessica Pickering, BelmontBob Porter, Arcadia ValeLaurenceRoddick, Bar BeachCharlie Sanders, MetfordDiana Santleben, MarylandSean Scanlon, Hamilton EastMichael Thoroughgood, TeralbaSheena Tierney, The HillPeter Watts, RedheadJadeWheatley, Garden Suburb