Sailing gold medallists closing ceremony flag bearers
Ben Ainslie, who won his fifth Olympic medal last weekend, has been announced as Team GB’s flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games tomorrow night, while Australian 470 double Olympic gold medallist Malcolm Page will carry out a similar role for the Australian team.
Ainslie said: “It’s a really proud moment for me and for sailing to have such an involvement at the end of what’s been such an amazing Games for the whole country.
“There have been so many people involved in making these Games so special, so I think one thing you’d say on behalf of all the athletes is thanks so much to everyone involved – all the volunteers, and the whole nation for getting behind the team.
“It’s been our best-ever performance at the Olympics, and I think a lot of that comes down to having so much fantastic home support.”
Team GB's Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said: "Ben Ainslie is the perfect choice for Team GB's flag bearer for the Closing Cermony. He has been at the heart of Great Britain's Olympic endeavours since 1996 and his achievements are already legendary.
"There are a number of worthy candidates from Team GB's ranks, athletes who have made the country proud and distinguished themselves through their accomplishments here at London 2012. But in becoming the most decorated sailor in Olympic history, Ben has earned the honour of leading our delegation into the Closing Ceremony of these extraordinary Games.
"As we pass the Olympic baton on to Rio, we as a team are privileged to have Ben lead the way."
Malcolm Page, who won his second Olympic gold yesterday, made similar comments: “What an honour, what an incredible honour. I’m a proud Australian and what a way to go out. I announced that this was going to be my last Olympic Games and I was going to be retiring as an athlete so it’s really special. These last four years have been an incredible journey for me, one of the best in my whole sailing life. To top it off with this is really the cream on top of the cake.”
Page said he received an early morning phone call from the Australian Olympic Team’s chef de mission Nick Green.
“I got a call from Nick Green this morning,” said Page. “Obviously I knew that the media was talking about it last night and I guessed I was going to be in the mix for the job and when he called I asked if he was just calling to congratulate me on the medal or if there was more and he cut straight to the chase. I couldn’t think of anything better. It was great to be there with my family at the same time. There were a few tears from my wife and mum. I think it will be a special night tomorrow night.”
The double Olympic gold medallist said that he was looking forward to sharing the moment with his fellow Australian sailors.
“This is my third Olympic Games. I’ve never been to an Opening Ceremony but always to the Closing and there is a real party atmosphere,” he said. “It’s the end of a long cycle for all of the athletes, we sacrifice so much to get to Olympics, some receive the accolades and success of winning medals and achieving their best. Yes it is a party and I look forward to not only representing Australia but the sport of sailing.
“We’ve done so well down in here in Weymouth and I’m insisting that all our team is right behind me and helping to show how to fly that spinnaker so to speak,” he said. “I’ll be putting a call in to Colin Beashel who carried the flag in Athens for some tips.”