Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman has chosen the athlete who will carry the Australian flag in the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony. But he is not letting on who it is. In fact, he hasn’t even told the lucky recipient.
“It’s one of the great honours to work out who should carry the flag. We’ve got an outstanding Team, so it’s been a very difficult choice,” Chesterman said at a media conference on Monday.
“It’s a great statement about how far the Australian Team has come, that we actually have a number of people who would be very, very justified as being chosen.”
Chesterman will announce the flagbearer at the Australian Team Reception on Thursday afternoon local time.
“I’m hopeful and actually very confident the person chosen will be embraced and recognised as an appropriate person to lead this great Team into the Opening Ceremony come Friday.”
Twenty-one Australian athletes have now arrived in Sochi, including biathlete Alex Almoukov, who is competing at his second Winter Olympics.
Almoukov was born in Russia and spent the early part of his childhood there before moving to Australia as a seven-year-old.
“It’s definitely exciting to be here in Sochi, back in Russia where my roots are from,” Almoukov said.
The 23-year-old is fluent in Russian and says he’s happy to act a translator for his teammates.
These Olympics will definitely be a family affair for the Almoukovs.
“My Dad is my coach, so he’ll be there on the track and I’ll have my Mum and my brother cheering for me from the stands.”
Fellow biathlete Lucy Glanville is also coached by Nick Almoukov and looked up to Alex as a role model during her transition from Cross Country to Biathlon.
The Sydneysider is making her surprise debut at these Games after seven higher-ranked nations on the qualification list decided not to send athletes to Sochi.
“I wasn’t expecting to be here at all. I’m stoked to be here. I’m so excited,” Glanville said.
The 19-year-old is drawing on her experience from the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck to prepare her for her last minute inclusion in these Games.
She is having no problem settling into the Mountain Olympic Village, saying “it’s massive and it’s luxury”.
Glanville will be rooming with Australian Cross Country athlete Esther Bottomley who she has known since she was young. But that doesn’t help the butterflies.
“I’m very nervous and really excited to be racing the best girls in the world,” Glanville said.
Fellow YOG athlete Greta Small will be competing in all five Alpine events at Sochi 2014, but she is still planning to walk in the Opening Ceremony.
“It’s a massive few weeks coming up, but it’s not unusual for me, because I compete in all events all the time, so I’m not worried. I’m really excited to be competing in all five events and excited that all the different chances I’ve got to be able to perform at my best,” Small told a media conference on Monday.
Australia’s third Youth Olympian to transition into a Winter Olympic Team- luger Alex Ferlazzo is wasting no time settling in. Despite arriving in Sochi just last night, he has already checked out the track at the Sanki Sliding Centre.
“I’m fully confident with this track, how safe it is, and I’m confident in my ability to keep it all together.”
Emily Groves | sochi2014.olympics.com.au
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