Nick Willis will be the New Zealand flag bearer for tomorrow morning's Olympic Games opening ceremony; Stuff reports:
Nick Willis will walk the Olympic Stadium track in London before he runs it after this morning being named New Zealand’s flagbearer for the opening ceremony.A silver medallist in the 1500m in Beijing four years, Willis was a popular choice for the role and speculation he could be handed the honour heightened last week when he tweeted he was off to buy some news shoes for the opening ceremony.With rower Mahe Drysdale and shot put champion Valerie Adams both ruling themselves out, Willis headed off the likes of veteran equestrian rider Mark Todd, triathlete Bevan Docherty and perhaps footballer Ryan Nelsen for the role.Willis will lead a New Zealand party of 60 into London’s Olympic Stadium tomorrow morning (NZ time), comprising 39 athletes and 21 officials. The number is low because a large proportion of the 184-strong team are competing on the opening two days, and other later starters aren't arriving in the athletes' village until closer to week twoUnlike four years ago when Drysdale had to row the morning after the opening ceremony, Willis has the first week off before hitting the track for the heats of the 1500m.The 29 year-old Wellington born United States based runner said he was thrilled to be handed the honour by the New Zealand Olympic team’s chef de mission Dave Currie.“What an amazing honour it is to be named as flag bearer for New Zealand,” he said. “My heroes Peter Snell and John Walker each carried the flag, so to walk where they, and many other New Zealand legends have, is more than I could have ever dreamed of.
It's hard to argue over this choice, given that Mahe Drysdale was unavailable and Valerie Adams is not even in London yet. As Olympic silver medallist and a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Willis is a seasoned campaigner who has paid his dues. He will represent New Zealand with pride.