The Queen’s Baton today visited Manchester as it continued its tour of England ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The Baton was joined by English gymnastics stars Ellie and Rebecca Downie at MediaCityUK, Salford in the morning, where it was also joined by England Basketball stars Georgia Jones and Dominique Allen who offered a ‘come and try’ session on a special basketball court at MediaCityUK.

The Queen’s Baton then took a trip to Old Trafford Cricket Stadium for the Lancashire Lightning V Birmingham Bears T20 Blast fixture.

The baton proudly took a lap of honour before the match and supporters attending the fixture at Emirates Old Trafford on Friday had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the baton at the Kukri marquee.

The Baton was parachuted into England on Wednesday morning in Oxford, and has visited London, Buckinghamshire and Leamington Spa before heading to Manchester.

Commonwealth gymnastics champion Rebecca Downie said:

“It’s been really exciting to see the Queen’s Baton today in Manchester. The Baton is so unique, with all of its different features and how it brings everyone together. It’s starting to feel very real now.

“The Commonwealth Games is one of those big milestones you want to win a medal in and go to, amongst the likes of the Olympic Games and world championships. The Commonwealth Games is always a special one and being a multi-sport event you get to meet lots of different athletes, and have a lot of fun.

“I am looking forward to getting back from this injury, and hopefully make the English team. Once we get there, I think that with our team, it’s going to be a successful Games for us. I can’t wait to get out there and get as many medals as we can.”

English gymnastics star Ellie Downie said:

“We are starting to get a great feeling for the Commonwealth Games now, and now that people are celebrating it with the Baton, you realise that it’s getting a lot closer.

“I am very excited at the prospect of my first Commonwealth Games. First off, I am hoping to be selected for the team, having watched Glasgow and being too young for the team, I knew that I wanted to be in the team for the Gold Coast.

“It’s a great opportunity to be around so many different athletes as it can help you concentrate harder and try to block out the distractions during competition, but it’s great fun too.”

England basketball player Georgia Jones said:

“It’s really great to see everyone so excited about the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and the Baton is really cool. The Commonwealth Games is fast approaching, the 4th April is going to come around very quickly but I am really excited. Hopefully I get a chance to represent Team England on the Gold Coast, which will be a great experience.”

Paul Blanchard, Chief Executive, Commonwealth Games England said:

“At the halfway point of the Queen’s Baton’s visit of England, we are delighted with the reception the Baton has received from the nation, and we have enjoyed a great day in Manchester, which of course hosted the 2002 Commonwealth Games.”

The Queen’s Baton Relay is a Commonwealth Games tradition that celebrates the Commonwealth’s diversity, inspires community pride and excites people about the world-class festival of sports and culture to come.

The Queen’s Baton carries a message from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II that calls for athletes to come together in peaceful and friendly competition.

On Saturday 19 August and Sunday 20 August, the Baton will be visiting England’s 2022 Commonwealth Games prospective bid cities Liverpool and Birmingham.