Winter Olympics 2014: Speed skater John Eley set for 'proudest moment' of his career as he is chosen to carry the flag for Team GB

Eley will lead Britain's competitors into the Fisht Olympic Stadium in the Olympic Park on Friday

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Short track speed skater John Eley has described the honour of carrying the flag for Great Britain in Friday's opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics as the proudest moment of his career.

The 29-year-old, who is set to take part in his third Games, was picked by a panel of Team GB ambassadors, including former Winter Olympics gold medal winners Amy Williams and Robin Cousins.

Eley said: "It will be the proudest moment for me to lead out one of our strongest teams and hopefully it won't be the only highlight of my two weeks of competition.

"To be the first man through the doors at the opening ceremony with the flag will be a fantastic feeling.

"When I think back to seeing Chris Hoy carrying the flag in London, and how emotional he was, it showed how much it means to be leading out everybody on the team."

Eley, who began skating when he was 18 months old, made his Winter Olympics debut in Turin, when he secured his best finish to date with a fifth place in the 500m.

In February 2007 he became first British short track speed skater to win gold at a World Cup competition when he won the 500m in Heerenveen, and in the 2010 Vancouver Games he finished sixth.

Team GB chef de mission Mike Hay hailed the appointment of Eley, saying: "Jon is an excellent choice to lead Team GB into the opening ceremony in Sochi and we are very proud to have him as our flagbearer.

"Jon understands and embraces the responsibilities that come with being an Olympian and a member of Team GB. He leads through his actions and sets a positive example for our entire delegation. Jon is widely respected by his team-mates across Team GB and he is certainly deserving of this tremendous honour."

The opening ceremony will begin at 2014 local time (1614GMT) on Friday, with the athlete's parade taking place between 2025-2110 (1625-1710GMT).

During the parade, around 40,000 spectators will welcome a record-breaking 87 nations into the Fisht Olympic Stadium in the Olympic Park.

Short Track team leader Stuart Horsepool said: "Being flagbearer is a fantastic honour for any athlete and I am absolutely delighted for Jon. He embodies the principle of 'One Team GB' and although he's been selected for the role in Sochi, he's been a flagbearer and a leader for short track for the past two Olympic cycles.

"To finish in the top eight at two consecutive Olympic Winter Games in a sport that is notoriously unpredictable is a testimony to him as an athlete. Since Vancouver he's had some injury set-backs that he has had to overcome, so his dedication and hard work to get to this point makes him very deserving."