London 2012 Olympics: Flag-bearer Sir Chris Hoy delighted with ‘once-in-a-lifetime chance’
A DELIGHTED Sir Chris Hoy will relish the “once in a lifetime opportunity” when he flies the flag for Britain at Friday’s opening ceremony of London 2012.
The most successful man in British track cycling history will follow in the footsteps of sporting greats such as Sir Steve Redgrave and Mark Foster when he carries the Union Flag during the eagerly anticipated pageant to open the Olympic Games.
The Edinburgh-born four-time Olympic gold medal winner said he was “absolutely delighted and honoured” to be named the flag-bearer on behalf of Britain’s 542-strong team for the prestigious event.
He also revealed that despite the fact that London will represent his fourth Olympic Games as a competitor, it will mark the first time he has ever attended an opening ceremony.
The privilege is even more special as it was the first time athletes themselves had a say in the selection of the iconic role, announced by the British Olympic Association.
Previously, the flag-bearer’s position had been decided by officials and team leaders of Team GB, but Sir Chris won a vote of 31 athlete representatives.
The 36-year-old from Edinburgh, who also carried the Union Flag at the 2008 closing ceremony in Beijing, will be the first British athlete to step foot in London’s Olympic Stadium. Britain will be the last of the 204 competing nations to enter the arena, as Sir Chris leads out the parade in front of 80,000 spectators and more than a
billion TV viewers worldwide.
He said: “I’m absolutely delighted and honoured to have been voted as the flag-bearer for Team GB. To lead out your team at a home Olympics is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one that I can’t wait to experience in just a few days’ time.”
Speaking from the cycling team’s training base in Newport, he added he was “blown away” by the accolade and still in shock hours after being told.
“I certainly didn’t expect it,” he said. “I’ve never actually been at an opening ceremony before. I’ve been to four Olympic Games, but I’ve never experienced it, so for a number of reasons it’s going to be memorable.
“I remember watching the opening ceremony on television at my first Olympics in Sydney in our accommodation and seeing the spectacle of the team coming in. I never dreamt I’d be the one carrying the flag for the team, it’s a dream come true.”
Team GB’s chef de mission Andy Hunt was first to pay tribute to Sir Chris. He said: “Team GB could not have placed the flag in better hands. It is a great honour for Sir Chris and the team will be proud to march behind him. He is a fantastic ambassador for his sport and his country.”
First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Many congratulations to Sir Chris Hoy. He is Scotland’s most successful Olympian and it is fitting that he carry the flag at the opening ceremony.
“I know the whole country will be wishing him well as he aims to add to his already fantastic medal tally at these Games.”
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore described Sir Chris as “a paragon of the Olympic spirit”, adding: “His successes as a Scottish Olympian in Team GB and his key role as an ambassador for the Games and his sport make him a perfect choice.”
Hundreds of the cyclist’s fans, some of them sporting stars in their own right, offered messages of congratulation on social networking sites, where he again gave thanks.
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