Middle distance runner Nick Willis has been selected to be New Zealand's flag bearer at the Olympic opening ceremony tomorrow morning.
The closely-guarded identity of the New Zealand flag bearer was revealed this morning at a gala dinner in London held by Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae.
Willis was presented with the New Zealand Olympic team's cloak during the ceremony.
Beijing 1500m silver medallist Willis fuelled speculation that he had been given the flag bearer duty, when on July 15 he tweeted that he was buying new shoes for the occasion.
Willis confirmed those suspicions when after the gala dinner he revealed via his Twitter acccount that he, "Was asked in March, and couldn't even tell my Dad until tonight."
"What an amazing honour it is to be named as flag bearer for New Zealand," Willis said in his emotional speech after today's ceremony.
"I will use this opportunity to offer support to my fellow 2012 Kiwi Olympians, and hopefully inspire them through my own performances at the Games."
Flag bearer "an honour"
Prime Minister John Key tweeted his support to Willis, writing "Congratulations to @nickwillis who has just been named our flag bearer for the Olympics opening ceremony - what an honour."
While fellow olympian Mahe Drysdale tweeted, "Congrats @nickwillis awarded the honour of flag bearer. We won't be physically behind you at the ceremony, but we will be with you in spirit.
Chef de Mission Dave Currie said Willis was chosen for the honour as his achievements reflect the best in New Zealand's sporting traditions.
"The role of flag bearer is to both lead and inspire the Olympic Team.
"Nick's results speak for themselves and his silver medal run in Beijing was a great moment in New Zealand sporting history. His drive and focus are complimented by quiet modesty, humour and generosity," Currie said.
"Like Sir Murray Halberg, Sir Peter Snell, 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."
Former New Zealand flag bearers include Mahe Drysdale in 2008, Beatrice Faumuina in 2004, Blyth Tait in 2000 and Barbara Kendall in 1996.
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