The British Olympic Association (BOA) is delighted to announce that three-time Olympic short track speed skater Jon Eley has been selected as the Team GB Flagbearer for the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games on Friday 7 February.
Eley was selected from a group of athletes that were nominated by the winter-sport Team Leaders. In order to be considered for the honour of Team GB Flagbearer, an athlete must exemplify the Olympic Values and uphold the One Team GB Values.
The selection was made by a panel that included Team GB Chef de Mission Mike Hay and Deputy Chef de Mission Sport Mahdi Choudhury, Team GB Ambassadors Amy Williams and Robin Cousins, as well as curling Olympian Jackie Lockhart and BOA Chief Executive Bill Sweeney.
Eley follows in the footsteps of his Sochi 2014 skeleton teammate Shelley Rudman, who carried the flag at the Opening Ceremony in Vancouver. The 29-year-old was ecstatic upon receiving the news that he would carry the flag on behalf of the 56 British athletes who will represent Team GB in Sochi.
Eley said: “To be representing Team GB for my third time is a great honour and being selected as the Flagbearer has made it unbelievable. Carrying the flag I hope will not only be a very proud moment for my wife, my family and myself, but also my teammates across Team GB – who have all made a massive contribution to my career -- and my sport.
“It is an amazing privilege and a moment that I will treasure for the rest of my life, and I plan to use this opportunity to fuel my ambitions in competition and encourage my teammates to be their best, ensuring that this is just the start of a very successful Games for myself and the rest of Team GB.”
The former relay world record holder from Solihull boasts European and World Cup medals among his career highlights, and has competed at the past two Olympic Winter Games at Turin and Vancouver, where he finished 5th and 6th respectively in his preferred distance of 500m.
Team GB Chef de Mission Mike Hay said: “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 teammates across Team GB and he is certainly deserving of this tremendous honour.”
The Opening Ceremony will begin at 16:14 GMT (20:14 Sochi local time), on Friday, with the athlete’s parade taking place between 16:25-17:10 GMT (20:25-21:10 Sochi local time). During the parade around 40,000 spectators will welcome a record breaking 87 nations into the Fisht Olympic Stadium in the Olympic Park for the Opening Ceremony, which will officially mark the start the XXII Olympic Winter Games.
Short Track Team Leader Stuart Horsepool added: “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 8 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.”
Other short track speed skaters formerly chosen to be Team GB Flagbearers include Wilf O’Reily, who carried the flag at the Albertville Opening Ceremony in 1992, and Nicky Gooch, who was selected as the Closing Ceremony Flagbearer in Lillehammer in1994 after winning a bronze medal at the Games.