YORKSHIRE’S Alistair Brownlee will be England’s flag-bearer for the Commonwelath Games opening ceremony on the Gold Coast.
Leeds born-and-bred Brownlee comes into the Games as defending champion in both the individual and mixed relay races. In 2016 he become the first person to win back-to-back Olympic titles at triathlon, having first won gold at London 2012.
Brownlee said: “It is a massive honour to carry the flag for England at the Commonwealth Games. I can’t imagine what it will feel like walking into the stadium with the cross of St George, alongside all the other Commonwealth nations. It is certainly going to be up there as one of the moments in my career that I will always remember.”
Team England chef de mission Sarah Winckless said: “I’d like to offer huge congratulations to Alistair on being selected as our flag-bearer. We put the athletes at the heart of making this choice and I know he will lead the team into the stadium with pride.
“Alistair is one of the iconic figures of English sport, his achievements in triathlon are unrivalled. I am sure that this experience will match all that he has achieved in his career and this will be a real moments to savour for Alistair and his family.”
Triathlon team leader Ian Pyper said: “Alistair is a fantastic role model for triathletes and sports people all across England. I’m delighted for him and for the whole triathlon team. Not many people get to carry their team’s flag into the stadium and this is just reward for all of Alistair’s hard work.”
Alistair, 29, led brother Jonny, 27, home in Glasgow four years ago and the double act have a repeat performance on their mind in Australia.
Injuries and an indifferent start to the season mean the Brownlee brothers will not start as gold medal certainties in Australia.
But after embracing the atmosphere and culture on the Gold Coast over the last month; the brothers admit they are pumped and hungry for success.
Alistair said: “We’ve both been here for a few weeks already up on the Sunshine coast and it’s been really good and great to experience a bit of Queensland culture.
“We’ve enjoyed the beach, had a go at surfing, seen a bit of the wildlife and been to a few restaurants so it has been good.
“We have trained hard, prepared as well as we can and we’re looking forward to competing now.”
Jonny said: “It has been pretty intense training here.
“We’ve been here to get used to the heat and get over the time difference, but also to do some fast training that you can’t do at home.
“It has been hard, but we’ve trained pretty well and the intensity will actually decrease now that we’re a few days away from competing.”
Double Olympic champion Alistair underwent a hip operation last year and has struggled with a calf niggle in the lead up to the Games, while Jonny had a little injury of his own, although both of them are doing all they can to be competitive.
Alistair said: “I’m happy that I’m here and you never know in the race, I’ve just got to go out and try and race to the best of my ability on the day.”
The Brownlees are expecting around 10 family members to be cheering them on from the grandstand and the two Yorkshiremen are proud to represent Team England.
Alistair said: “It’s a big honour every time you pull on a national jersey and it should be like that, remembering right back to the first times when we were 13 or 14.
“You can become a bit blasé about it, but you definitely shouldn’t and so it’s important that you remember it is a great honour and a great privilege to represent your country.
“It’s normally Team GB, but we are obviously proud Englishmen as well, so it’s fantastic that we are standing here wearing Team England shirts.”
Interview via npower, the official partner of Team England. Visit npower.com/teamengland