Andy Murray has been named Great Britain’s flag bearer for the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracana Stadium on Friday night.
Murray has beaten off competition from the likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Leeds boxer Nicola Adams and David Florence to become the first tennis player to land the honour.
“I am very proud to be selected as the Team GB flag bearer for the opening ceremony on Friday,” he said.
“To represent your country at the Games is an unbelievable experience, but to lead out Team GB will be an incredible honour, the biggest in sport.”
The 29-year-old clinched men’s singles gold at the London 2012 Games as well as silver in the mixed doubles alongside Laura Robson.
Murray was the choice of a panel of British Olympic Association experts, who picked from nominations made by each of the respective national sports federations.
The Scot will head a British team of 366 competitors, although a sizeable proportion of the athletes are yet to arrive in Brazil.
Murray added: “This is my third Olympic Games and it is a very special competition for me.
“I obviously have great memories of London and I am 100 per cent focused on winning here in Rio.
“The privilege of being the flag bearer is a moment I will remember for the rest of my life and will certainly be one of the highlights of my career.
“I hope to do the team proud on Friday and wish all of the British athletes the best of luck for the Games ahead.”
The 29-year-old, who won Wimbledon for a second time last month, follows in the footsteps of fellow Scot Sir Chris Hoy, with the cyclist leading out Team GB at London 2012.
The team’s chef de mission Mark England, who headed the panel for the final selection, said a conversation with Murray convinced him the three-time grand slam winner was a worthy choice.
He said: “There are a great number of outstanding athletes on this team, from Nicola Adams who I made flag bearer in Baku, to Sir Bradley Wiggins, unquestionably one of our greatest ever Olympians.
“When I asked Andy to lead our team out it was received with a humility and grace that is befitting of the values of Team GB. It was an emotional moment for him personally, and for this team.
“I will be incredibly proud to hear him address the team and I have no doubt he will inspire our athletes and the nation alike.”
Murray is the second seed in the men’s singles, behind world No 1 Novak Djokovic, who paid tribute to his rival at Serbia’s Olympic team press conference.
Djokovic said: “Absolutely deserved. He’s globally recognised not just as a tennis player but an athlete.
“He has done so much for Great Britain, he has won gold and silver in London, he has won (the) Davis Cup.
“I’ve known him for a very long time and I know how much he cares about playing for his country so being a flag carrier for the opening ceremony is something that is absolutely deserved for him.”
Iain Bates, Team GB’s tennis leader, added: “Being the flag bearer for your country at the Olympics is an incredible honour and I am absolutely thrilled for Andy. He is a fantastic athlete at the very top of world sport, but not only that, an athlete that embraces and demonstrates the Olympic values in everything he does, on and off court.
“He is a great role model and thoroughly deserves this accolade. I know he is over the moon at being selected and I’m sure he will do himself and our country proud on Friday.”
Previous Olympic flag bearers for Great Britain, and their sports: 1906 - William Grenfell (fencing); 1908 - Kynaston Studd (cricket); 1912 - Charles Smith (water polo); 1920 - Philip Noel-Baker (athletics); 1924 - Arthur Hunt (water polo); 1928 - Malcolm Nokes (athletics); 1932 - David Cecil (athletics); 1936 - Jack Beresford (rowing); 1948 - John Emrys Lloyd (fencing); 1952 - Harold Whitlock (athletics); 1956 - George MacKenzie (wrestling); 1960 - Richard McTaggart (boxing); 1964 - Anita Lonsbrough (swimming); 1968 - Lynn Davies (athletics); 1972 - David Broome (equestrianism); 1976 - Rodney Pattisson (sailing); 1980 - Dick Palmer (official, due to boycott); 1984 - Lucinda Green (equestrianism); 1988 - Ian Taylor (field hockey); 1992 - Steve Redgrave (rowing); 1996 - Steve Redgrave (rowing); 2000 - Matthew Pinsent (rowing); 2004 - Kate Howey (judo); 2008 - Mark Foster (swimming); 2012 - Chris Hoy (cycling); 2016 - Andy Murray (tennis).
Novak Djokovic believes winning Olympic gold would be arguably the biggest achievement of his career.
A gold medal is the biggest prize missing from the world No 1’s trophy cabinet after he finally won the French Open in June, becoming the first man in 47 years to hold all four grand slam titles at once.
Djokovic has always taken immense pride in representing Serbia and won a bronze medal in singles in Beijing and then finished fourth in London, having carried his country’s flag at the opening ceremony.
“It would be ranked as one of the highest if not the highest achievement that I would have in my career,” said Djokovic. “But I’ve got to stay humble, I’ve got to take a very cautious mindset into this Olympic Games. I have a bronze from Beijing, London I fell short but I always played with my heart and all I had when I play for my country.”