Who should be New Zealand's flag bearer?

Nick Willis was the flag bearer at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Nick Willis was the flag bearer at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The quadrennial Olympic flagbearer debate is upon us.

The decision's importance might be moot, but it is a customary entrée to any Games. Which of the 199 athlete hors d'oeuvres should be selected?

Is it someone 'guaranteed' of gold? Is it someone who optimises the team culture? Is it someone on the rise?

Chef de mission Rob Waddell gets the final say, presumably after extensive committee consultation.

Here are some options which might have hit the discussion table:

Likely

Lisa Carrington
A household name who is the favourite, provided she attends the opening ceremony with kayaking scheduled for the second week.

Carrington is on the cusp of becoming the first Kiwi woman to win two golds at one Games in the K1 200m and K1 500m. The potential distraction would be her choice.

Valerie Adams
One of the country's greatest Olympians who has a chance to become the first New Zealander to win gold medals at three consecutive Games.

However, Adams won't be competing until the second week, and looks set to skip the opening ceremony. She carried the flag into the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Eric Murray and Hamish Bond
The shortest favourites for a gold medal (Irish bookies had them as low as €1.02) with 66 consecutive international wins. If they triumph, they'll become history's greatest men's coxless pair.

However, they compete the day after the opening ceremony which suggests they'll be tucked up in bed early.

Lydia Ko
Past flag bearers have usually had Olympic pedigree, but if anyone was to change this mindset it is golf's world No.1, the poster child for multiculturalism in New Zealand sport.

Ko understands protocol as well as any undulating green and is therefore unlikely to disgrace. Again though, her competition starts in the second week.

Other options

Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie - past gold medallists who return to tack and gybe through the Rio sewerage in their 470.

Hayden Roulston - double track cycling medallist who returns to the boards after an eight-year hiatus.

Lauren Boyle - has single-handedly kept swimming's head above water on the funding front for years.

Kayla Sharland - at her fourth Olympic Games and fits the bill of an inclusive team as a Mum who is of Rangitane descent.

Andrea Hewitt - has overcome grief at the loss of her partner Laurent Vidal to spring back to the top of triathlon.

Unlikely

Sir Mark Todd
Todd has been selected for nine Olympics, dating back to the 1980 Moscow boycott.
He's won two gold and three bronze medals but has already carried the flag at Barcelona.

Mahe Drysdale
Carried the flag and wore the kakahu at Beijing.
He got sick shortly afterwards and had to be stretchered away from the rowing single sculls final where he secured bronze.

Sonny Bill Williams
Normally gets what he wants on the contract front, but this one might even be beyond the reaches of his negotiating team.

- NZ Herald

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