Local heroes carry the baton
THE STREETS were overflowing Wednesday afternoon with Roma supporting the 26 baton bearers for the 2018 Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay.
The baton departed from the Big Rig at 3.30pm with Ronnie Manns beginning the relay around the town before arriving at the Maranoa Council.
From youngsters to some of the communities' most accomplished legends, the Roma baton bearers were selected to be part of history, accounting for some of the million steps it has taken to bring the Queen's Baton to its final destination at the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.
Among the baton bearers was 29-year-old St John's PE teacher, Meg Lyons who moved to Roma in 2012 to follow her teaching dream.
Originally from Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, Meg has been overwhelmed by the support the community has shown to her since moving here.
"It's huge to be nominated by the community seeing as though I'm not originally from here. If I stayed on the coast and taught there I would only be a number, but teaching in Roma it has given my the opportunity to involve myself in the community and really make a difference, which is what I strive to do all my life,” Meg said.
"I am passionate about sport and I want people to also have that passion because I get so much love out of it.
"I call Roma my pseudo-hometown because I love going home to Caloundra, but I also love coming back to Roma and being involved in the Tri Club, the parkrun and immersing myself.”
Eleven-year-old Darcy Kingston was also part of the relay, a surprise his family kept from him.
Darcy's family found out he was nominated and decided to keep it a secret until he was announced as an official baton bearer.
"I knew originally he was nominated, but we didn't tell him until he was chosen, so we kept it a secret right to the end. We thought it would be a nice surprise for him,” Darcy's mother Lisa said.
"I couldn't believe I was nominated because mum didn't tell me about it until a bit later, but it was a pretty insane experience,” Darcy said.
Lisa also said the relay was a great opportunity for local people to be acknowledged who are often overlooked.
Roma local Sophia Tilbury and Georgia Wylie from Dulacca, both 17, were honoured to represent young people in the community.
"It was amazing and we have never had something like this before and for this to happen and to be involved is a once in a life time opportunity,” Sophia said.
"I have always been involved with younger kids with dancing and netball so I am glad I can show them I have done this and hopefully inspire them to achieve higher.”
"I am from a small town and have never really had this chance so it was good to have this opportunity happen for young and older people,” Georgia said.
The relay came to a close with Darren Thrupp running the last 200m and into the Maranoa Council to officially end the Roma leg of the relay.
"I even had a little tear in my eye going up on to stage because of the immense support and it really gets to you,” Darren said.
"It's great knowing that I am carrying the flame for people around here. It will be definitely something I remember forever.”
Darren is a former Australian Paralympic athlete who has won nine medals at six Paralympics.
"It meant a great deal to me and it almost meant as much winning a gold medal for Australia.”
Yesterday the baton continued on its journey to the Gold Coast and arrived in Mitchell.
A total of 11 baton bearers, five from Mitchell, three from Roma, one from Injune, Amby and Westmar, took part in the relay.
Among the baton bearers was Christine McLean and Steffan van Muster, who are both very active members of the community and immersed themselves in Mitchell.
To see all of the action from the Queen's Baton Relay check out the photo gallery below.