Sir Chris Hoy, who is looking to add two Olympic golds in London to the four he has previously won, will carry the union flag in Friday’s London 2012 opening ceremony. Hoy was Great Britain’s flag carrier four years ago in Beijing, where he won gold in the individual and team sprints and the keirin. There have been calls for newly crowned Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins to have the honour of lighting the Olympic flame, but his competition schedule means that is unlikely to happen.
Hoy, who also won gold in the kilo and silver in the team sprint at Athens in 2004, will be the first ever cyclist to have the honour of carrying the union flag into the Olympic Stadium at the head of the Great Britain team, with more than half of the 542 athletes representing the country in London expected to participate in the opening ceremony.
As the host nation, Great Britain will be the last country to enter the Olympic Stadium, with Greece by tradition entering first, with other nations entering in alphabetical order, ahead of the ceremony culminating with the lighting of the Olympic flame.
Given that the men’s road race starts a few hours after the opening ceremony is due to finish, it’s highly unlikely that any of the five riders representing Great Britain in that event will attend it at all, let alone that Bradley Wiggins will be given the duty in recognition of his exploits over the past three weeks. Parties as diverse as the Daily Star and Tory MP Louise Mensch have led calls for the Team Sky rider to light the flame.
The smart money is on Sir Steve Redgrave to do the honours. Winner of five gold medals, the former rower is Great Britain’s most successful Olympian in terms of events won, although Hoy could of course overhaul that total over the next fortnight or so.
Wiggins, who has six Olympic medals, three of them gold, and Hoy himself could also become the country’s most successful Olympian in terms of total medals won – the Tour de France winner is, on current form, as close to a certainty as it’s possible to get to take a medal of some colour.
Commenting on his being chosen to carry the flag, Hoy said: “I’m absolutely delighted and honoured to have been voted as the flag bearer for Team GB. To lead out your team at a home Olympics is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that I can’t wait to experience in just a few days’ time.”
British Cycling president, Brian Cookson, added: “To be selected as a flag bearer at any Olympic Games is a great honour but to be selected for the home Games is an extra special achievement and I’d like to personally congratulate Sir Chris. Chris has been an outstanding ambassador to the sport of cycling throughout his extensive career, and we’re proud that he is a fellow member of British Cycling. To have Chris carry the flag on behalf of Great Britain is another milestone in the success of cycling in Britain.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.