Snowboard Cross World Champion Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin has been chosen to carry the Australian flag at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony.
Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman made the announcement at the Team Reception in front of athletes, coaches, VIPs and media on Thursday night in Russia.
Chesterman said Pullin represents ‘this generation’ of Australian winter athletes who has “flown our flag highest on the world stage over the last four years, since the Vancouver Olympics and who embodies the spirit and drive of this Team.”
Since finishing 17th on Olympic debut in 2010, Pullin went on to win the World Championship in 2011 and 2013 as well as overall World Cup titles in both years. He has inspired many other snowboarders to train hard and dream big. He is one of 11 snowboarders at these Games for Australia.
As well as honouring Pullin, Chesterman acknowledged Aerial Skiing defending champion Lydia Lassila. The 32-year-old who carried the Closing Ceremony flag at Vancouver 2010, presented the flag to Pullin for 2014.
Since 2010, Lassila has become a mother, and is back to challenging the world’s best and set for more Olympic success. She has been asked by Chesterman to march at the front of the Team as she is not only an outstanding inspiration to her teammates but this is her fourth Olympic Games.
Pullin was thrilled with the honour of leading the tightly bonded Team.
“Wow, this is an amazing honour and I can only say this adds to the excitement I feel right now,” Pullin beamed.
“Standing here with all the great athletes and great Aussies…. yeah I’m speechless.
“We’ve got a huge time ahead of us and it is pretty crazy. All this hype based around one event and for me it is just one day.
“There are a lot of expectations on the table beauty of this I can feel I’m really looking forward to that challenge.”
The event was held in Rosa Khutor village, at the base of the mountain where Pullin will chase Olympic glory at Extreme Park.
The 26-year-old, who was born in Mansfield Victoria and lives in Sydney’s northern beaches, will lead out Australia’s largest ever Winter Team into the Fisht Stadium at Sochi Olympic Park on Friday night (Saturday morning AEDT).
Chesterman praised all of the athletes for their commitment and dedication to make it to the Olympic Games.
“I want to salute our stars of tonight, our stars of these Games, our 60-strong Australian Olympic Team,” Chesterman said.
“Yes, 60 strong – and each athlete has sacrificed much to be here, and each is a fine example of what hard work and dedication can achieve, because making it onto an Australian Olympic Team is an extraordinary achievement in itself.
“Each athlete has a story to tell, an inspiring story that will continue to touch millions of adults and children back home and that make our Australian Olympic Team the inspiration of our nation.
“This is a Team that represents its country with pride. This is a Team that now stands tall on the world stage of winter sports, a Team that knows it belongs, a Team that is about to write the next chapter of Australia’s rich Olympic history.”
Pullin becomes only the 12th Australian Winter Olympic Team Opening Ceremony Flagbearer. The past two Opening Ceremony Flagbearers, which Chesterman chose – Alisa Camplin (2006) and Torah Bright (2010) – have gone on to win medals. All of Australia hopes this trend continues at Sochi 2014.
Andrew Reid | sochi2014.olympics.com.au