Today, on Commonwealth Day, Her Majesty The Queen will officially start the Queen’s Baton Relay from Buckingham Palace - and when she hands over that baton the journey to Australia will become very real for all.
I know preparation for the Gold Coast started years ago for both organisers and athletes but the relay, which takes in all of the Commonwealth countries, is a remarkable journey to one of the world’s biggest sporting events.
Glasgow 2014 was a fantastic spectacle for Scotland. We hosted some of the world’s top athletes and witnessed some amazing feats of athleticism in an action packed 11 days.
Scotland’s athletes delivered, pulling off a record medal haul – smashing previous totals, national records and personal bests. And it was also about inspiring people across Scotland to get more active as we move towards becoming a healthier nation.
And, of course, there was the opening and closing ceremonies – will people ever forget those dancing teacake!?
But what we experienced from those Games was a sense of inspiration to get involved, whether through sport or by volunteering, or simply being there to watch.
Sport is something that can bring communities together and we see that in the legacy of Glasgow 2014, and that sense of togetherness is reflected in the theme of Commonwealth Day 2017 – peace-building.
It’s a theme we fully embrace as an inclusive and welcoming nation, and that’s the vision of ourselves we will project to the world.
Prejudice has no place in modern society and absolutely everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
Australia 2018 will be another opportunity to celebrate our diversity, embrace what makes us different but appreciate the ties which also bind us. And the vehicle for that will be sport and a friendly yet competitive Games.
We extended the warmest of welcomes to our Commonwealth neighbours in 2014 – we look forward to a similar welcome in Australia.