Hoy ready to accept 'massive honour' of carrying flag

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Scot would become first cyclist to carry flag if he wins the voting process today

Sir Chris Hoy would accept an invitation to become the first cyclist to carry the British flag at Friday's opening ceremony for the Olympic Games despite the track team not being scheduled to leave their training camp in Newport until the following day.

The flag-bearer will be named this afternoon after a complicated voting process is completed. The ceremony in the Olympic Stadium lasts for around four hours and a number of athletes prefer not to take part because of any physical effects it might have on the eve of competition – few swimmers will be among the parade of 204 competing nations, with their events beginning the following morning.

That is not an issue for the track cyclists as the action in the Velodrome does not get under way until the following Thursday. That means the team are to remain in Wales, staying at Celtic Manor and training at the Newport velodrome as they replicate their build-up to a memorable Games in Beijing. But Hoy would be permitted to go to London a day ahead of the rest of the team.

"You never expect these things at all and if it did come my way then it would be a massive honour," said Hoy. He added that it had not previously crossed his mind that he might be asked, but were he to be there was no question of refusing the invitation.

He said: "You couldn't overstate how much of an honour it would be to walk out at a home Olympics and to lead your team out. It will be an amazing experience for whoever gets it. It's not something you can turn down."

Hoy will be competing in his fourth Olympic Games. In Beijing he won three gold medals but it was revealed last week that he will only have the chance to defend two of them in London after Jason Kenny was chosen ahead of the 36-year-old Scot in the individual sprint.

Hoy will race, alongside Kenny and the 19-year-old Philip Hindes, in the team sprint and the keirin. Hoy also won gold at the 2004 Athens Games – one more in London would draw him level with Steve Redgrave as Britain's most decorated Olympian. With Hoy having won a silver as well in comparison to Redgrave's extra bronze it would lift Hoy above Redgrave on the honours list.

The British Olympic Association has devised a new means of agreeing the flag-bearer for Team GB. The 31 team leaders from across all sports each nominate three members of their squads from which the BOA draw up a nine-strong shortlist. One representative from each sport then picks their top three from that list.

Others thought to be in contention include Paula Radcliffe and Katherine Grainger. Four years ago the swimmer Mark Foster was chosen. The six-time world champion had come out of retirement a year earlier to make one more challenge for an elusive Olympic medal but failed to make it to the semi-finals.

Britain have the largest team at the Games with 542 athletes, ahead of the US and Russians with 530 and 436 respectively. There are likely to be few British rowers, sailors or swimmers at the ceremony. The footballers will be in the Olympic village that night and Stuart Pearce has left it up to his players' individual choice. Little more than half of Australia's 410-strong team are expected to take part in the ceremony, it was revealed yesterday.

Other flag-bearers already announced include Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer for the Russians and Swiss respectively. At 21, South Africa's Caster Semenya will be one of the youngest flag-bearers.

 



Flying the flag: the contenders

Chris Hoy, cycling

Like his fellow Scot Grainger, Hoy is 36 and preparing for a fourth Games. In Beijing he became Britain's most successful Olympian at a single Games for a century after taking three gold medals – to add to a gold in Athens and a silver in Sydney. Surprisingly, no cyclist has ever carried the British flag at a Games before – and no Scot at the Summer Games since 1960.

Paula Radcliffe, athletics

A marathon runner would seem ideal for the long evening in the stadium and the long march around the track. The Olympics have not been kind to Radcliffe, 38. She is a world, Commonwealth and European champion as well as a world record holder but has yet to make a Games podium – London will be her fifth attempt. She may have to weigh any invitation with her fitness concerns.

Alison Williamson, archery

The 40-year-old from Melton Mowbray will be taking part in her sixth Olympic Games. When she walked around the track (behind flag-bearer Steve Redgrave) at the opening ceremony of her first in Barcelona, Tom Daley had not been born; she made her international debut in 1989, the year Rebecca Adlington was born. Williamson has never been merely an also-ran in a sport dominated by the Koreans, and won a bronze in Athens eight years ago.

Ben Ainslie, sailing

This will be the 35-year-old from Macclesfield's fifth Olympic Games and he is hoping to end it with a fourth gold medal – he won silver in his first Games in Atlanta in 1996 as well. The issue with Ainslie accepting the honour would be a Sunday start to his campaign at Weymouth – would he be happy to make the journey to and from the capital and take part in what is a four-hour-plus event so close to competition time?

Katherine Grainger, rowing

Only three women have carried the Union flag at the Summer Games – Kate Howey (judo, 2004), Lucinda Green (equestrian, 1984) and Anita Lonsbrough (swimming, 1964). Grainger would be a more than worthy fourth in what will be her fourth Olympics – she has won silver at all three of her previous Games and is favourite to turn it into gold in 2012. Grainger does not start her competition until Monday, so would have two days to recover were she chosen.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor