Inspirational Black Country men chosen to carry Queen's Commonwealth Games baton

Two public figures named as Queen's Relay baton-bearers have spoken of the benefits the Commonwealth Games can bring to their city.

Councillor Bhupinder Singh Ghakal said he was proud to represent working class people
Councillor Bhupinder Singh Ghakal said he was proud to represent working class people

Cyclist Hugh Porter and politician Bhupinder Singh Ghakal are among more than 2,000 people to have been named as baton-bearers for the Queen's Baton Relay, which will see the baton taken across England, visiting the West Midlands on July 18.

The former broadcaster and four-time individual pursuit champion joined the councillor for Wednesfield South, a driving force behind the Saraghari monument in the town, to speak of the honour of being selected.

Councillor Ghakal said: "It's just so unreal and what dreams are made of for me, a man from a working-class background working in a foundry for 12 hours a day, five days a week to be able to do something like this.

"I am just very proud to be doing this and I'm representing the working class people, whether they are Sikh, Muslim or from anywhere in the world, as I am proud to be a councillor here in Wednesfield.

“It’s not very often that I’m lost for words, but on this occasion I really am. I feel so honoured and privileged to be given this opportunity and I would really like to thank the person, or persons, who nominated me."

Hugh Porter said he couldn't wait to see the time trial in Wolverhampton

Mr Porter, who is a cycling ambassador for Wolverhampton, said: "It’s a great honour to be nominated and selected to carry the baton through my home city of Wolverhampton. The privilege will leave me with many proud happy memories.

“Winning a gold medal for the 4,000m Individual Pursuit at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Jamaica was very special.

"The medal is in the mayor’s parlour along with the other gold medals I won as a professional cyclist."

Both men also said the benefits of having the Games in the region and the Cycling Time Trial running through Wolverhampton were huge for the city and the sport.

Councillor Ghakal said: "It's going to put the city on the map, just as the Saraghari monument statue did, and while the Games are in Birmingham, Wolverhampton is part of it as well.

"I've been married to Wolverhampton for 38 years and I love this place and I think we will get to show the world what Wolverhampton is all about."

Mr Porter said: "In August, the city will be hosting the start and finish of the cycling road time trials and it will be a golden opportunity for the people of Wolverhampton and surrounding areas, to see some of the world’s leading competitors.

"As the City’s Cycling Ambassador, I can’t wait, and I really do think this brings my Commonwealth journey full circle as I still can't believe I'm part of this at my tender age, so bring it on."

Both men are due to participate in the relay as it passes through Wolverhampton on Sunday, July 24.

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