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Green has made flagbearer decision

25 July 2012

TEAM: The Australian Olympic Team’s Chef de Mission, Nick Green, has chosen our flagbearer for Friday’s Opening Ceremony, and describes the choice as “a great decision for the country”.

But he is giving no hints as to the identity of the flagbearer, even refusing to rule out veteran rower Drew Ginn despite Ginn having said on Tuesday that if he were offered the job of carrying the flag he would decline the opportunity.

“I have chosen the flagbearer, but in respect of the occasion I don’t want to rule people in or out,” Green said.

“I’ll make the announcement as we have traditionally done, on Thursday night at the team reception, and let’s not spoil the surprise by eliminating people from the process.“

Green said he had only made up on his mind on the flagbearer on Tuesday. There is no doubt it would have been a very difficult decision this time, with a number of worthy contenders including cyclists Stuart O’Grady and Anna Meares, equestrian’s Andrew Hoy, beach volleyball’s Natalie Cook, swimming’s Leisel Jones, shooting’s Russell Mark and Michael Diamond, and Ginn.

Ginn was asked on Tuesday if he would accept the honour, should he be chosen. He replied: “I would decline the flag and suggest someone more deserving, someone like Anna Meares, Stuart O’Grady or Andrew Hoy. They are more deserving. It’s a big honour on behalf of the country and it’s a big deal, but for me it’s not something I’m interested in. I’m here to do a job and row for the Australian team and I won’t be marching. The competition in the first week is the focus for me.”

Ginn and Green were teammates in the “Oarsome Foursome” crew that won gold in the men’s fours at Atlanta in 1996, and Ginn said he had told Green a while back that the flagbearing job wasn’t something that fitted in well around his campaign, just in case he was being considered.

Green said it was anticipated about 220 Australian athletes would march in the Opening Ceremony. That represents a bit over half of the 410-strong team.

“That figure may vary,” Green said. “There are obviously some athletes who are competing the next day, and some athletes who are staying out in remote villages. We allow the individual sports to determine arrangements. It’s about a one-kilometre walk (from the athletes’ village to the stadium) and they will run us through the sequence so that there’s no hanging around. We’ve put a lot of time into ensuring the time on feet for the athletes is limited as much as it can be.” 

Arrangements are being made for athletes whose events are being staged at sites that are a long distance from the Stadium, prohibiting them from marching, to still be able to enjoy the occasion by staging their own events at the same time.

Peter Conde, the section manager for sailing, said: “We have got six athletes and myself marching, and the rest will be staying at Weymouth. We are putting a function on where we are staying, and we will also have a supporters’ tent down at the local pub, full of family and friends. The athletes can choose which event to attend.”

Ray Ebert, the section manager for rowing, said plans were being made, adding: “The Opening Ceremony will certainly be broadcast here, and our reserve rowers are putting something together for the night. Finding a suitable venue has been difficult, but we will definitely be celebrating the occasion.”

Greg Prichard

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