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Commonwealth Games 2002
 
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Thursday, 25 July, 2002, 23:46 GMT 00:46 UK
Games get stylish opening
The Queen receives the Commonwealth baton from Kirsty Howard and David Beckham
The Queen receives the Commonwealth baton

The 17th Commonwealth Games were officially opened by the Queen on Thursday as competitors from 72 countries paraded in front of a 38,000-strong crowd at the City of Manchester Stadium.

Five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave got the two-and-a-quarter-hour opening ceremony underway by banging a huge drum.

Sir Steve Redgrave bangs the ceremonial drum
Sir Steve Redgrave bangs the ceremonial drum
And the champion rower was joined on the big stage by such sporting stars as yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur, heptathlete Denise Lewis, long-distance runner Moses Kiptanui, swimmer Susie O'Neill and sprinter Donovan Bailey.

England football captain David Beckham also had a turn in the spotlight, helping chaperone Kirsty Howard as the terminally ill six-year-old handed the Commonwealth baton to the Queen.

A 4,000-strong cast took part in the 12m spectacular, which was an unusual - but well-received - mix of pomp and pop.

The Grenadier Guards shared the arena with pop band S Club and opera singer Russell Watson while the Queen's arrival was greeted with a flypast by the Red Arrows.

An acrobatic delivers the Commonwealth baton
The baton arrives via an acrobat in a balloon
Malaysia, hosts in 1998, began the athletes parade, which featured such countries as Kiribati and Anguilla.

But even small teams like Montserrat, with just one competitor, were cheered just as loudly as the likes of Australia, whose flag was carried by weightlifter Damian Brown.

Some of the New Zealand squad surprised the crowd by launching into an impromptu haka while Scotland announced their arrival with a mass conga.

England were left to bring up the rear before the Queen, the Head of the Commonwealth celebrating her Golden Jubilee year, declared the Games open.

David Beckham with the Commonwealth baton
David Beckham salutes the 38,000-strong crowd
Her speech had arrived in the Commonwealth baton, which had passed through 23 countries in four months.

"All of us participating in this ceremony tonight, whether athletes or spectators, or those watching on television around the world, can share in the ideals of this unique association of nations," the Queen said.

"We can all draw inspiration from what the Commonwealth stands for, our diversity as a source of strength, our tradition of tolerance...our focus on young people, for they are our future."

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BBC Sport's Harry Peart
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Steve Cram and Seb Coe
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26 Jul 02 | Sports Talk
25 Jul 02 | Swimming
25 Jul 02 | Features
23 Jul 02 | Front Page
07 Jun 02 | Other Sports

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