Olympics: Twins carry flag at spectacular closing ceremony

Golden rowing twins Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell made Olympic history yet again when they carried New Zealand's flag in the Beijing closing ceremony last night.

In the 112-year history of the summer Olympics, no couple, never mind twins, has carried their nation's flag at a closing ceremony.

The closest comparison to the twins' double act at the Bird's Nest stadium occurred at the Salt Lake City winter Games in 2002.

There Canadian figure skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier shared the honour at the closing ceremony. Fellow figure skaters Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat did likewise for France.

There has only been one instance of two people jointly carrying the flag at an opening ceremony - in a rare display of political unity, Eun-Soon Chung and Jang Choo Pak from South and North Korea respectively made the symbolic gesture at Sydney in 2000.

At Beijing the twins became the first crew in Olympic history to successfully defend the women's double sculls title, pipping Germany by .01 seconds.

It was also the first time any New Zealand woman had won gold at consecutive Olympics.

The closing ceremony flag bearer is typically an athlete who has represented his or her country proudly and reflects the spirit of the entire team.

Shot putter Valerie Vili and boardsailor Tom Ashley also won gold for New Zealand in Beijing.

In 2004, individual pursuit gold medallist Sarah Ulmer carried the flag into the Athens closing ceremony.

Chef de Mission Dave Currie said that overall the New Zealand Olympic team had performed exceptionally well.

"With three gold medals at Beijing the flagbearer was a particularly tough choice," Currie said.

"Ultimately it came down to recognising Caroline and Georgina's extraordinary performance at Beijing, but also taking into account their performance in Athens.

"Caroline and Georgina clearly reflect the extraordinary commitment the entire New Zealand Olympic Team has made at Beijing 2008."

- NZPA

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