Batonbearers for the Rose City unite all ages
JOHN Davis remembers watching sporting greats like Dawn Fraser and Herb Elliott taking on the challenge of the Commonwealth Games.
Decades on, Mr Davis will join in the athletic event himself, as one of two selected to run the Queen's Baton Relay for Warwick.
At 75, he has only just given up distance running and says he will be "hobbling a short distance" when the relay comes to town in April.
"I was very surprised when I found out actually," Mr Davis said.
"My daughter Linda has always been very athletic and she'll be carrying the baton in Townsville.
"She did her schooling here in Warwick and she was involved in all sorts of sports.
"When she first nominated me I didn't think much of it because I didn't think there was much of a chance I'd get it."
A lifelong horse rider and runner, Mr Davis moved to the Warwick area in 1980 when his former employer, Australian Estates Pastoral, moved him to Terrica.
He has worked in horse breaking and mustering around the Southern Downs, and still runs a rural property in his retirement, but it was his community involvement that secured his Queen's Baton selection.
"I've been a member of the Endeavour Foundation committee since 1993," Mr Davis said.
"Our son Murray has Down Syndrome and Endeavour helps provide support and employment for people with a disability.
"Linda, Murray and I also started martial arts about 28 years ago and have our black belts.
"We had trained with Chris Clayton and when he went to Toowoomba I took over running the dojo."
Mr Davis has also been first officer of the Massie Rural Fire Brigade for the past seven years, after joining nearly 40 years ago.
He will be joined by 13-year-old Xsanthia Frith in the relay.
The School of Total Education student is already a budding athlete, competing in swimming, running and archery.
Despite her enthusiasm, Xsanthia said her selection came as a surprise but that she was humbled to carry the baton and share her indigenous heritage.
"I'm really excited as I never thought I'd get a chance to do something so important," she said.
"They were just going around to schools and asking each school to nominate someone and I was lucky enough to be selected.
"I'm from a very small part of the Northern Territory called Wave Hill (Kalkarindji) in the Tanama Desert so it's a very big honour for myself and my family to be doing this.
"I don't get to go home very often but it feels like I'm representing my culture and heritage in a town that's so far away."
Xsanthia said she was excited to be involved. "I don't know too much just yet, I should find out more sometime in November," she said. "I'm hoping my friends and family will come out to watch; I have amazing people supporting me. "I would love to compete in a sport at the level if I ever had the chance." Mayor Tracy Dobie said she is immensely proud of the Southern Downs batonbearers and the role they will take when the Queen's Baton comes to town. "Many have dedicated their lives to improving the lives of others, some have accomplished great feats and others are working towards realising their dreams," Cr Dobie said. "Being a batonbearer recognises all of this, and more. "I encourage everyone to support these great people in our community, and to share a memorable moment with the Queen's Baton yourselves." The full list of batonbearers for the Southern Downs has now been announced.