Jake Saywell admitted he had to pinch himself in amazement after being announced as Team GB’s flag bearer for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.
As the sole equestrian athlete in the 33-strong Team GB ranks out in China, Saywell was nominated by his team leader Corinne Bracken for the honour of flag bearer at Saturday’s opening ceremony.
Athletes from each of the 12 other sports that Team GB will contest in Nanjing were also nominated by their respective team leaders, with the young athletes voting for their teammates.
Saywell, 17, was revealed as the lucky winner of the secret ballot at a reception hosted by the British Consul at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nanjing.
And the teenager admitted it was a shock when his name was called out by Team GB chef de mission Sarah Winckless, albeit a welcome one.
“I never expected it at all because there are so many great athletes here so it was a great surprise and I feel very honoured and privileged to be voted by my fellow teammates and friends and it just feels great,” Saywell said.
“It has been a great start and how everything has been set up is great and you can’t fault a thing, and this makes it even better.
“Equestrian isn’t the biggest sport here but it just shows that everyone is noticing it now and we have had some very good results in the last Olympics and Europeans so the only way is up.
“This has given me a big boost now and I just can’t wait to get going.”
With just one equestrian athlete in the Team GB squad for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, Bracken had an easy choice about who to put forward for her nomination of flag bearer.
However she insists that Saywell deserves the prize, having worked tirelessly over his teenage years to make it to this point in his career.
She said: “It is unbelievable and I can’t think of an equestrian athlete that has ever been a flag bearer at an Olympic Games.
“Jake is such a hard worker and he has been such a pivotal member of the showjumping teams since he was 12 years old so for him this is a fantastic experience and the fact his family are flying in for the Opening Ceremony will just be amazing for him.
“Hopefully it will get equestrian on the world stage again and it is very emotional for me.”
© Sportsbeat 2014