Team GB is delighted and proud to announce that Olympic champions Hannah Mills and Mohamed Sbihi, have been selected as the flagbearers for Friday’s Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
In a positive break from tradition, the IOC confirmed in March, 2020 that each National Olympic Committee could nominate one female and one male athlete as flagbearers.
Sailor, Mills, and rower, Sbihi, were selected from a group of athletes nominated to Team GB by sports. The nominees were chosen by their respective sports as athletes that exemplify the Olympic Values and uphold the Team GB Values of Pride, Responsibility, Respect and Unity.
The final selection for the honour was made by a panel headed by Team GB Chef de Mission Mark England, with the athletes being invited to lead the delegation over the last 24 hours.
Mills and Sbihi follow in the footsteps of some of Team GB’s most legendary athletes including Andy Murray, Kate Howey, Chris Hoy and also Anita Lonsborough, who was the first female to carry the flag for Team GB in Tokyo in 1964.
Mills, who will be defending her women’s 470 title alongside Eilidh McIntyre in Tokyo, will become the first female sailor to carry the Union flag, whilst Sbihi, a gold medallist in the men’s four five years ago, is the fourth rower to be given the privilege to march at the head of the delegation.
Speaking at Team GB sailing’s base in Enoshima after being confirmed as one of the flagbearers, Mills said: “To be asked to carry the flag for Team GB at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games is not a sentence I ever thought I’d say. When Mark (England) told me I had been chosen, it was completely overwhelming and when I had a moment to think about what it meant I got pretty emotional.
“It is the greatest honour in my career and I hope more than ever before that this Games can lift our country and deliver some incredible sporting moments to inspire the nation.”
Sbihi, who along with his rowing teammates are staying in the Olympic Village for the first time since Sydney 2000, spoke of his pride at being selected to represent Team GB’s delegation along with Mills: “It is such an honour to be invited to be the flagbearer for Team GB. It is an iconic moment within the Olympic Movement – people remember those images. I certainly remember the images of Andy from Rio and even before I was a rower I remember seeing Sir Matt and Sir Steve, so it is something I am incredibly proud of.
“It is going to be a surreal experience actually going to an Opening Ceremony but this year with the racing schedule it is actually manageable even if I wasn’t a flagbearer. It will be really special and will complete my Olympic puzzle. I’ve won a medal, been to the Closing Ceremony but now to actually turn up at an Opening Ceremony and be at the head of the team alongside Hannah it will be a lifetime memory that I will never forget.”
Team GB Chef de Mission, Mark England, said: “Having spoken personally with Hannah and Moe, it was clear to see what this honour meant to them. Not only what it meant personally, but also for their teammates and wider delegation in what has been the most difficult and unprecedented 18 months for everyone in the United Kingdom.
“Both athletes embody the Values of Team GB and they are thoroughly deserving of this great honour.
“Hannah and Moe have already created multiple Olympic memories and I have no doubt they will add to these in Tokyo over the next 16 days.”
Images courtesy of Team GB