After winning his second Olympic gold in the 370 class sailing, Mat Belcher will be Australia’s flagbearer at the Tokyo 2020 Closing Ceremony.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) announced the decision on Saturday morning ahead of the close of the Games on Sunday.
A three-time Olympian, the 38-year-old Belcher has now won two golds and a silver. Crewmate Will Ryan won the gold at Tokyo alongside Belcher to add to his silver at Rio.
Chief de Mission, Ian Chesterman congratulated Belcher on a well-deserved achievement.
“Mat is steeped in the Olympic tradition and very successful in what he has achieved with medals at three successive Olympic Games. He is the most successful sailor in Australian Olympic history,” Chesterman said.
“Two golds and a silver over those three Games is quite something. It’s an extraordinary record of achievement, performing at this level of competition.
“And fitting to come away with a gold medal in what is the final appearance for Mat and Will in this class together. It will be a mixed class in Paris 2024.
“They completely dominated at these Games building an unassailable lead prior to their final race on Wednesday.”
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It was a gruelling five days of races for the Aussies, but Belcher and Ryan set themselves up strongly early.
In Race 01, the pair crossed the line second behind Sweden. Race 02 was not quite as strong, finishing fifth for a total of seven points overall. With Sweden dropping to a 15th place finish though, it was enough to secure first place on day one.
Day two on Thursday July 29 saw two first place finishes for the pair as they started to pulled ahead of the pack. Great Britain was hot on their heels, but there was no cause for concern yet.
Day three followed on Friday, with a fourth and third place finish. Comfortable was the word that started to be thrown around, the podium well and truly in sight.
After a day’s respite, Belcher and Ryan claimed a first and second place finish on day four to all but secure their gold. Tuesday was a victory lap, finishing second in the first race of the day and cruising to eighth in the second.
The occasion is even more special for Belcher, and not just because of his gold. He’s already been a flagbearer, carrying the Australian flag at Sydney 2000.
Belcher said he was delighted at the honour when Chesterman asked him to carry the flag.
“This has been an historic Games for all sorts of reasons and of course personally satisfying to have won that gold with Will,” Belcher said.
“Ian’s call was an unexpected surprise and something that I will treasure.
“This has been a wonderful team that has achieved so much. To lead them into the Closing Ceremony means so much.
“I will be carrying the flag not just for those who are here but for all those now in quarantine back home or headed elsewhere. This will be for all of us.”
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