For high school student Zahra Al Hindawi, carrying the Queen’s Baton on its Shepparton leg of the Commonwealth Games was an honour.
The Verney Rd student, 17, was nominated by a teacher and staff member at the school to take part in the relay, and was ecstatic to be included.
An avid runner before she was nominated, Zahra said she never expected she would have the opportunity to run in such a special event.
The Year 12 student is an enthusiastic volunteer, who spends her time working with the Meals on Wheels team at Mercy Place, helps out with hot food at school, as well as with hydrotherapy for those with a disability.
‘‘I felt really scared beforehand, but I got used to it and got excited because my friends from Shepparton High were there to support me, and they cheered me on and gave me high fives as I ran past, so I’m just so happy,’’ Zahra said.
‘‘It was just a dream, I didn’t ever expect I would be here with these people around me, and I’d just like to thank everyone for coming today.’’
Zahra was chosen to represent Shepparton with 16 other runners for the event, which began at Bourchier St in front of a roaring crowd of primary school students.
The relay headed along Balaclava Rd, onto Hawdon St, then along Knight St, Corio St, Nixon St, onto Maude St and then onto Wyndham St, before it finished at Victoria Park Lake.
Addressing the crowd at the finish line, City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Kim O’Keeffe said the community felt privileged and honoured the baton had visited the region.
‘‘I would like to congratulate our local baton bearers ... who were chosen to carry the baton for a number of reasons, including their significant contributions to sport, education, the arts, culture, charity or community, and for achieving something extraordinary, or encouraging others to,’’ Cr O’Keeffe said.
‘‘They’ve shared the dream and carried the spirit of the games with pride, embracing the diversity and values of the Commonwealth.
‘‘Our region has a strong passion and love for sport, so it is fantastic that Shepparton as a community stopped for the Queen’s Baton Relay.’’
The relay travelled to Wangaratta after the Shepparton leg, and will continue its journey through the rest of the country before it ends up at the Gold Coast Games in April.