Burling to carry NZ flag in Rio

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Blair Tuke and Peter Burling. Photo/NZOC
Blair Tuke and Peter Burling. Photo/NZOC

Tauranga sailor Peter Burling and Blair Tuke will carry the New Zealand flag at the Olympic Games opening ceremony in Rio.

The London Olympic silver medal 49er sailors were named at a team function in Rio the night before the ceremony.

They were among a list of about five candidates in the pre-announcement speculation on who would get the honour.

Three-time Olympian Burling would technically be the official flag bearer. Effectively the honour had the pair named as co-captains of the New Zealand team in Rio.

"We are so incredibly proud to be leading the team together and to be honoured as a crew," said Burling.

"We would not have had the success we have had without each other and we know this is the case for many of us in the New Zealand Olympic team."

Peter Burling's father Richard Burling said he was extremely proud of his son, competing in his third Olympic Games and being asked to bear the New Zealand flag for the opening ceremony.

Burling was 17 when he competed at the Chinese Olympic games.

Mr Burling said they had no idea of the flag bearing announcement. If they had, they would have booked flights to go over to Brazil earlier, he said.

Mr Burling and his wife Heather were flying out of New Zealand tonight. They would spend a few days in Chile before carrying on to Brazil to catch up with Burling and Tuke before they sailed.

Mr Burling said, he and his son had never even considered the idea of Burling carrying the New Zealand flag.

"We are just sitting here with our mouths open."

Mr Burling said his son had done everything he could in the last four years to prepare for this year's games.

"They are ready to go. They have won 27 regattas in a row since London and lost one. It would be a shock if they didn't win but we are very nervous about it at the same time. In saying that they have done really well since London.

"They will go in as the picked favourites but they can only do their best.

"Every major regatta they have been to, they have put everything on the line and done well."

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. Photo/File
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. Photo/File

New Zealand team chef de mission Rob Waddell acknowledged the joint appointment "is a step away from Olympic tradition but it acknowledges the importance of teamwork at the Olympic Games.

"Pete and Blair have delivered exceptional performances as a crew over the past four years and have epitomised the values and culture of the New Zealand Olympic team."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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