Olympics: Willis to carry NZ flag

By Dylan Cleaver

Nick Willis. Photo / NZ Herald
Nick Willis. Photo / NZ Herald

New Zealand flagbearer Nick Willis said his bitterness at missing out on being captain in team sports at school has only now dissipated.

Willis was announced this morning as New Zealand flagbearer.

"It bites a bit," he said of the teenage captaincy rejection.

That's why he never considered rejecting chef de mission Dave Currie's offer when it was made in March. He made a note of saying he was fully aware that Mahe Drysdale got sick after leading the team four years ago, but he would take precautions to make sure it didn't happen to him.

The heats of the 1500m start August 4.

Willis was yesterday presented with the team cloak at a ceremony in the Olympic Village in London.

He was then officially honoured at a gala dinner hosted by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae.

Guests included former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Zinzan Brooke, Barbara Kendall, Owen Glenn and World Anti-Doping boss David Howman. Entertainment was provided by Neil Finn.

"What an amazing honour it is to be named as flag bearer for New Zealand," Willis said.

"My heroes Peter Snell and John Walker each carried the flag, so to walk where they and many other New Zealand legends have, is more than I could have ever dreamed of.

"I will use this opportunity to offer support to my fellow Olympians and, hopefully, inspire them through my own performances at the Games."

Currie said New Zealanders still considered the 1500m their own.

"His success in this race made New Zealanders proud," Currie said.

He also noted Willis' generosity in organising a track meet last year to raise money for the people of Christchurch.

"Like Sir Murray Halberg, Sir Peter Snell and Sir John Walker before him, Willis is a part of the best of New Zealand's great sporting traditions and most worthy of the role of team flag bearer."

Drysdale carried the flag for New Zealand in Beijing. He then struggled with I'll health, finishing third behind Olaf Tufte and Ondrej Synek when he was favoured to win gold.

- NZ Herald

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