Five-time Olympic medallist Anna Meares has been named as Australia's flagbearer for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at a ceremony in Melbourne's Federation Square, one day after the 32-year-old was confirmed for a fourth Olympic appearance.
Meares, who won gold in the 500m time trial at Athens in 2004 and gold in the London 2012 sprint, will lead the Australian team at the opening ceremony at the Maracanã Stadium on August 5.
"It's a huge honour. When Kitty (Chiller) flew to Adelaide and told me I was extremely emotional, we were both pretty emotional. It kind of felt like she was proposing to be quite honest. She asked and I said yes!," Meares. "I've never marched at an Olympic Games, what a way to do it as a first-timer. All my life I dreamt of being an Olympian, an Olympic champion and representing Australia I never contemplated or dreamt that I could be the flagbearer.
"For me, a country girl, a coalminer's daughter, to become the second cyclist in history to be an Australian Olympic Team flag bearer, leaves me very emotional and proud."
Meares joins 1936 flagbearer and 1932 one kilometre time trial gold medallist Dunc Gray as the only cyclists to have been awarded the honour.
At the Federation Square event, 2016 Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller explained the choice of Meares as flagbearer.
"Anna is the epitome of what our Team represents - respect, humility and excellence. She is a role model to many, across all sports and in the community," Chiller said. "She was selected for her fourth Olympic Team yesterday and she will inspire not only her cycling teammates in Rio but the entire team.
"Anna is already an inspiration to Australia and I know she will take on this role with the commitment and pride that has been the hallmark of her career to date."
Meares made her Olympic debut in Athens, winning her first gold medal and bronze in the sprint. Four years later in Beijing, Meares went one better as she claimed the sprint silver medal, with rival Victoria Pendleton claiming the gold, seven months after she broke her neck in a crash.
In London, Meares reversed the Beijing result to win gold and also doubled up with Kaarle McCulloch to claim bronze in the team sprint.
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