Sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have been named as co-captains of the New Zealand Olympic Team and will together lead the kiwi contingent into the Maracan Stadium for the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games.
The announcement was made at a ceremony at the Athletes Village in Rio de Janeiro this evening where the Olympic silver medallists and four-time world champion sailors were each presented with a traditional kakahu (cloak) by the New Zealand Olympic Team Chef de Mission Rob Waddell together with His Excellency the Rt. Hon. Lt. Gen. Sir Jerry Mateparae.
Peter Burling will carry the flag, and both sailors will wear a Kakahu, and walk side by side ahead of the New Zealand Olympic Team on 5 August at the ceremony which officially opens the Olympic Games for 2016.
It is the first time that New Zealand has had two individuals to lead the team and share the role of Team Captain.
It is the second time a sailor has been named as flag bearer to the New Zealand Olympic Team after board sailor Barbara Kendall was given the honour in Atlanta 1996.
Peter Burling says, "We feel incredibly honoured and proud to have been chosen for the role."
"On the 49er we work together as a team, and so its really special to share the responsibility of Team Captain to the New Zealand Olympic Team."
Blair Tuke adds, "In our sailing campaign, and in life, we approach each day with the aim of improving, getting better at what we do. We know that everyone else on the New Zealand team has worked extremely hard to get here, and now the time has come."
"We are ready to put down a good performance and we know that everyone else on the kiwi team will be ready to do the same."
Chef de Mission Rob Waddell said he was proud to have named the two sailors to a joint leadership role. "Id like to offer both Pete and Blair my warmest congratulations," said Waddell from the teams residence in the Olympic Village, "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. Their focus on achievement is without compromise, but as proud New Zealanders and Olympic Ambassadors they also take the time to share their inspiring stories with youngsters. We know they will inspire through achievement and performance."
Sir Jerry, who is spending four days in Rio supporting the New Zealand Olympic Team as one of his final duties as Governor General of New Zealand, said "New Zealand sportspeople are renowned for their determination, commitment and high performance on the world stage. Equally importantly, New Zealanders are known for upholding the values of friendship and respect both in and out of competition. Pete and Blair are no exception and I will join the New Zealand Olympic Team and the rest of New Zealand supporting them as they inspire pride and excellence in all of us during the Rio Olympic Games."
"I congratulate Pete on being selected to the special appointment with the New Zealand team, as our national standard bearer for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the opportunity to wear the korowai "Te Mahutonga".
Burling and Tuke sail the 49er skiff class and together won Olympic silver at London 2012. Since then theyve been dominant in their class winning four consecutive 49er World Championship titles, and last year being named World Sailors of the Year by World Sailing.
This will be 25 year old Burlings third Olympic Games having attended Beijing 2008, when he became New Zealands youngest ever sailor to represent our country at the Olympic Games. Sailing in the Mens 470 class with Carl Evans back then, Burling subsequently partnered with Tuke (now 26 years) in the mens skiff class going on to win the silver medal at London 2012.
Burling and Tuke start racing on August 12 from the Marina da Gloria sailing venue. They are part of a 12-strong team of kiwi sailors to compete in seven events in Rio.