List of flag bearers for Great Britain at the Olympics

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Great Britain at the
Olympics
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
IOC code GBR
NOC British Olympic Association
Medals
Gold Silver Bronze Total
0 0 0 0
Summer appearances
Winter appearances
Other related appearances
1906 Intercalated Games

This is a list of flag bearers who have represented Great Britain at the Olympics. Flag bearers carry the national flag of their country at the opening ceremony of the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. Men and women from across the country and from a variety of sports have been chosen to bear the flag at the opening ceremonies. Two people have been given the honour on more than one occasion: biathlete Mike Dixon three times at the Winter Games, and rower Steve Redgrave twice for the Summer Games.

Firsts[edit]

First flag bearer[edit]

Kynaston Studd carrying the flag at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London.

The 1906 Intercalated Games is no longer considered by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to be part of the Summer Olympic Games[1] but it was the first such event to feature an opening ceremony with a parade of nations.[2] William Grenfell, 1st Baron Desborough, a member of the British fencing team who went on to be president of the British Olympic Council in time for the 1908 Games in London,[3] was the first person to carry the flag for Great Britain.[4]

With the 1908 London Games being the first true Summer Olympics to feature a parade of nations, cricketer Kynaston Studd can be said to be the first person to carry the flag for Britain at an Olympic event. However, cricket was only played at the 1900 Olympic Games (see: Cricket at the 1900 Summer Olympics) and Studd was therefore not a competitor.[5] Charles Sydney Smith won a 1908 gold medal in water polo and was chosen to represent the country as the flag bearer at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. This made him the first competing athlete to carry the flag for Great Britain.

First female flag bearer[edit]

The first woman to carry the flag was Mollie Phillips, a figure skater, who led the ceremony at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. This made her the first woman to lead out her national team at any Olympic Games. The 1932 British Winter Olympic team comprised only four athletes, all in figure skating and all female.[6][7] Phillips was by far the senior member of the team at the age of 24 compared to Joan Dix, the second oldest, at just 13 years of age.[8]

The first female flag bearer at a Summer Olympic event was Anita Lonsbrough at the 1960 Games in Rome. Her gold medals at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games and successes in the LEN European Aquatics Championships no doubt aided her selection.[9]

Nations[edit]

The Great British team includes athletes from England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Frederick McEvoy was the first person born outside England to bear the British flag. Furthermore, as he was born in Australia, he was the first person born outside of the United Kingdom to represent the country.[10] The first person born in Scotland to lead the team out in the ceremony was gold medal-winning boxer Richard McTaggart in 1960. Lynn Davies became the first person from Wales to carry the British flag in 1968. To date nobody from Northern Ireland has been given the honour.[4]

Repeated flag bearing[edit]

While most flag bearers have only represented Great Britain once, rowing gold-medallist Steve Redgrave was chosen for the honour in two consecutive Summer Olympic Games (1992 and 1996) and biathlete Mike Dixon carried the flag in three consecutive Winter Olympic Games (1994, 1998, and 2002).[4] Redgrave decided not to stand for candidature during the selection process of the 2000 Summer Games.[11]

Selection and reactions[edit]

Shelley Rudman, carrying the flag at the 2010 Winter Olympics, said that her selection was a "huge honour".

The flag bearers are chosen by the British Olympic Association who sometimes open up the process to other British sporting agencies. The current process involves asking each sport involved in Team GB to nominate one of their own competitors, then to vote on the shortlist. This means that the process is open to a wider group of people and can involve the competitors themselves. The chosen flag bearer receives a certificate to commemorate their selection.[11][12]

The athletes see their selection as an honour to lead the other British competitors out at the ceremony:

"I am so excited to be selected to carry the flag for Team GB. It's a huge honour for me to have been chosen to represent our team, and ultimately our country, in this way. There are some wonderful athletes here, and I will be so proud to be the person who leads them into the stadium."

As the parade became more firmly entrenched in tradition the pride in the role has grown. Flag bearers look back at those who previously filled the role and feel honoured to be chosen amongst them:

"It means the world, it's a real privilege, it's a real honour... It is a fantastic honour when people in the past like Matthew Pinsent, Steven Redgrave, Kate Howey, a lot of wonderful people have carried it before. I'm really, really chuffed.

The selection of a competitor can be seen as a positive reflection on the sport that they represent. When Kate Howey was chosen to bear the flag the British Judo Association noted that they were "thrilled that Kate and Judo have been given this tremendous honour".[14]

Boycotts[edit]

The 1980 Summer Olympics boycott, initiated by the United States to protest against the Soviet war in Afghanistan, saw many countries pull out of the Games and only 16 nations appeared at the opening ceremony. Dick Palmer, secretary to the British Olympic Association, carried the Olympic flag and marched by himself. The Soviet cameramen avoided the protesting marchers and few Soviet commentators mentioned it. Only one comment was recorded: "There is the clumsy plot that you all can see, against the traditions of the Olympic movement."[15]

Flag bearer Mark Foster (pictured here in the celebratory parade after the Games finished) was the only swimmer allowed to take part in the 2008 opening ceremony.

While the flag bearer usually leads a large number of competitors from their country it is becoming increasingly common for athletes to stay away from the opening ceremony. The lengthy procession is said to be tiring and a distraction from important preparations. This is particularly relevant to those competing in the days immediately after the ceremony.[16] UK Athletics, presided by 1968 flag bearer Lynn Davies,[17] announced that none of its competitors will take part in the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in London. Head coach Charles van Commenee explained "They would not go shopping for eight hours before their biggest event so why would you be on your feet for that long?"[18]

Other sports leaders have done the same. 2008 flag bearer Mark Foster was the only swimmer to take part in the parade while none of his colleagues were permitted to join in the celebration.[16] They are expected to be told to avoid the 2012 event:

"History shows that swimmers do not march in the opening ceremony... Our process will be to talk to our swimmer leadership group about all the pluses and minuses. Most of the leading swimming nations do not march. The decision has got to be based on performance and that's got to be the focus."

— Michael Scott, performance director of British Swimming[16]

If competitors from the other early sports (rowing, cycling, basketball, volleyball, handball, badminton, and gymnastics) also shun the parade the British representation may look very small at their own Olympics.[16] Paul Deighton, chief executive of the London 2012 Organising Committee, moved to reassure athletes and coaches, explaining that all competitors will have completed their duties before midnight and will have sufficient time to rest. The final decision will lie with the individuals and their coaching team.[19]

Other notes[edit]

List of flag bearers[edit]

List of flag bearers:[4]

Lucinda Green, one of only three women to have carried the British flag at the Summer Olympic opening ceremony.
Christopher Dean, the only ice dancer to have carried the flag.
William Grenfell, 1st Baron Desborough, flag bearer at the 1906 Intercalated Games where the first parade of nations was held.
No. Event year Season Flag bearer Sport
1 1906 Summer Grenfell, WilliamWilliam Grenfell Fencing
2 1908 Summer Studd, KynastonKynaston Studd Cricket
3 1912 Summer Smith, CharlesCharles Smith Water polo
4 1920 Summer Noel-Baker, PhilipPhilip Noel-Baker Athletics
5 1924 Summer Hunt, ArthurArthur Hunt Water polo
6 1928 Summer Nokes, MalcolmMalcolm Nokes Athletics
7 1932 Winter Phillips, MollieMollie Phillips Figure skating
8 1932 Summer Cecil, DavidDavid Cecil Athletics
9 1936 Winter McEvoy, FrederickFrederick McEvoy Bobsleigh
10 1936 Summer Beresford, JackJack Beresford Rowing
11 1948 Winter Sharp, Henry GrahamHenry Graham Sharp Figure skating
12 1948 Summer Lloyd, John EmrysJohn Emrys Lloyd Fencing
13 1952 Winter Nicks, JohnJohn Nicks Figure skating
14 1952 Summer Whitlock, HaroldHarold Whitlock Athletics
15 1956 Winter Parkinson, StuartStuart Parkinson Bobsleigh
16 1956 Summer MacKenzie, GeorgeGeorge MacKenzie Wrestling
17 1960 Winter Moore, JohnJohn Moore Biathlon
18 1960 Summer McTaggart, RichardRichard McTaggart Boxing
19 1964 Winter Schellenberg, KeithKeith Schellenberg Bobsleigh & Luge
20 1964 Summer Lonsbrough, AnitaAnita Lonsbrough Swimming
21 1968 Winter Dixon, RobinRobin Dixon Bobsleigh
22 1968 Summer Davies, LynnLynn Davies Athletics
23 1972 Winter Freeman, MikeMike Freeman Bobsleigh
24 1972 Summer Broome, DavidDavid Broome Equestrianism
25 1976 Winter Curry, JohnJohn Curry Figure skating
26 1976 Summer Pattisson, RodneyRodney Pattisson Sailing
27 1980 Winter Palmer-Tomkinson, JeremyJeremy Palmer-Tomkinson Alpine skiing & Luge
28 1980 Summer Palmer, DickDick Palmer Official (See: #Boycotts)
29 1984 Winter Dean, ChristopherChristopher Dean Ice dancing
30 1984 Summer Green, LucindaLucinda Green Equestrianism
31 1988 Winter Phipps, NickNick Phipps Bobsleigh
32 1988 Summer Taylor, IanIan Taylor Field hockey
33 1992 Winter O'Reilly, WilfWilf O'Reilly Speed skating
34 1992 Summer Redgrave, SteveSteve Redgrave Rowing
35 1994 Winter Dixon, MikeMike Dixon Biathlon
36 1996 Summer Redgrave, SteveSteve Redgrave Rowing
37 1998 Winter Dixon, MikeMike Dixon Biathlon
38 2000 Summer Pinsent, MatthewMatthew Pinsent Rowing
39 2002 Winter Dixon, MikeMike Dixon Biathlon
40 2004 Summer Howey, KateKate Howey Judo
41 2006 Winter Martin, RhonaRhona Martin Curling
42 2008 Summer Foster, MarkMark Foster Swimming
43 2010 Winter Rudman, ShelleyShelley Rudman Skeleton
44 2012 Summer Hoy, ChrisChris Hoy Cycling
45 2014 Winter Eley, JonJon Eley Short track speed skating[21]
46 2016 Summer Murray, AndyAndy Murray Tennis

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "What Events are Olympic?". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  2. ^ "1906 Athina Summer Games". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "The Fourth Olympiad, London, 1908, Official Report" (PDF). Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Great Britain". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Williamson, Martin. "The ignorant Olympians". Cricinfo. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  6. ^ "Lake Placid 1932: A Female Flag-bearer". Olympic.org. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  7. ^ bird, Dennis (18 January 1995). "OBITUARIES: Mollie Phillips". The Independent. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "Great Britain at the 1932 Lake Placid Winter Games". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  9. ^ Allen, Nick (11 August 2008). "Anita Lonsbrough watches Rebecca Adlingon win Beijing Olympic gold". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "Freddie McEvoy Biography and Olympic Results". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  11. ^ a b "Pinsent the flag-bearer". BBC Sport. 13 September 2000. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "Foster to carry flag for Britain". BBC Sport. 6 August 2008. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  13. ^ Benammar, Emily (12 February 2010). "Winter Olympics 2010: Shelly Rudman Britain's flagbearer for opening ceremony". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  14. ^ "Kate Howey to carry the British Flag". British Judo Association. 2003. Archived from the original on 15 March 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  15. ^ Fimrite, Ron (28 July 1980). "Only The Bears Were Bullish". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  16. ^ a b c d Hart, Simon (21 July 2011). "London 2012 Olympics: Great Britain swimmers to shun opening ceremony next year". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 October 2011. 
  17. ^ Fimrite, Ron. "UK Athletics Members Council". UK Athletics. Retrieved 27 October 2011. 
  18. ^ "GB track & field team to miss 2012 Olympics opening ceremony". BBC Sport. 15 July 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2011. 
  19. ^ Toney, James (7 October 2011). "London 2012: Locog promises athletes will be in bed by midnight after opening ceremony". SportsBeat. Archived from the original on 5 November 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2011. 
  20. ^ Hendricks, Maggie (12 February 2010). "Nine fine facts about flagbearers in tonight's Opening Ceremony". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 27 October 2011. 
  21. ^ "Jon Eley named as Flagbearer for Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony". Team GB. Retrieved 10 February 2014.