Across water and land, baton carries memories

By Cameron Weston
BEFORE Gregor Garnsworthy from Williamstown could run his leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay last Wednesday, he had to find his sea legs.
Mr Garnsworthy carried the Baton from Gem Pier in Williamstown to Docklands on board the tall ship Endeavour on one of the final legs on the baton’s journey to the MCG for the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.
Or took it halfway would be more precise – Mr Garnsworthy handed the Baton to fellow Williamstown runner Peter Norman halfway across the water.
While most runners carried the baton for about 500 metres – four minutes on average – Mr Garnsworthy held the treasured item for half an hour.
He shared the moment with his mother and father, his wife, Regis, and three children, who made the trip across the bay with him.
Mr Garnsworthy said the boat journey was especially poignant for his 89-year-old parents, Lionel and Gwen, who arrived in Australia from Scotland by ship many years before.
“It was a real buzz for them,” he said.
Mr Garnsworthy was twice nominated as a relay runner in recognition for his years of service to education in the western suburbs.
He has also served the local community through Rotary and has reached the highest level on the sporting field, representing Victoria and Australia in lacrosse.
For Baton runner Ted Allsopp, nostalgia mingled with pride in equal measure over the 400 metres he carried the baton through the streets of Altona.
The last time he walked in front of that many people was on the streets of Tokyo at the 1960 Olympics.
He would go on to finish the gruelling 50-kilometre walk in 17th place.
It was his second Olympic walk after finishing 10th in the 20km walk at the 1956 Olympic Games – Melbourne’s first international sporting carnival.
“It did bring memories back,” Mr Allsopp said of the baton relay.
“But the feeling …was better because all of my friends and local people were there to cheer for me.
“It was an honour to carry it, to be put with people like Cathy Freeman, John Landy and Ron Clarke.”
Mr Allsopp competed in walking at national level from 1948 to 1971, winning 12 national titles in various events. He is also an active member of the Hobsons Bay Art Society.