Lying in the foothills of Belize’s Maya Mountains rests the ancient ruins of Caracol. In a Queen’s Baton Relay first, Her Majesty’s message was carried into the archaeological site hidden in the heart of the Chiquibul Forest Reserve where Belize’s western border greets Guatemala.
Occupied between 1200 bc and 650ad by the Maya people, today the ruins are home to countless snails that vindicate its modern name, Caracol, Spanish for Snail.
Sidestepping the resident snails, the Alamilla family from Belize City carried the Baton during their exploration of the ancient metropolis.
With a passion for cycling – Belize’s most popular individual sport – the family saw a unique cross-training opportunity in climbing up and down the ruin’s steep steps.
Taking turns, they carried the Baton far above the forest canopy.
While cycling continues to gain momentum with the mainstream, one expat is optimistic about the futures of a newly arrived sport to Belize, rugby sevens. Tony Gillings is committed to carving a space for the sport.
The Londoner moved to Belize in 2014 with the sole purpose of introducing rugby to the Commonwealth’s only Central American nation.
” I thought it was crazy that a former British colony didn’t play rugby, it must be the only one! All of our regional neighbours play rugby. Sport has never really been high on the agenda in Belize, and there is untapped talent in this country.”
So far, Gilling’s efforts have paid off. Three years of perseverance have already produced four men’s teams. he is now looking to introduce the sport in schools.
While Belize’s inexperienced rugby sevens teams may not be ready to qualify for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Gillings trust there is enough support and interest in the community to keep things moving.
” There are kids of all ages looking for an organised activity to get involved in. Rugby brings to them solidarity, passion, integrity, teamwork, discipline and resilience. It builds the character of individuals on and off the field.
While in Belize the baton took part in a cycling and running relay from the airport through Belize City to the House of Culture, where it was officially welcomed by the Governor General.