25/05/2024
Cate Campbell and Patty Mills

Cate Campbell and Patty Mills will represent Australia as flag bearers at the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony. Photo: Australian Olympic Team Twitter

Patty Mills and Cate Campbell will be Australia's flag bearers for the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony on July 23.

Cate Campbell and Patty Mills will be Australia’s flag bearers for the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony.

On Wednesday evening in a live stream, Australian Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman revealed four-time Olympians Cate Campbell and Patty Mills as the flag bearers for Tokyo 2020.

A special live stream held 16 days out from Tokyo, took Australians around the country – and the world – in a virtual sense. A pandemic-inspired video call featured groups of athletes currently in their training camps preparing for the Games.

The two athletes will represent the 474-person strong team heading to Tokyo, which includes 254 women and 220 men.

It is the second-largest travelling team, just short of the Athens 2004 squad of 482 athletes. The team includes the greatest number of females (previously 214 in Rio 2016).

Campbell, an incredible role model for young athletes, has won five Olympic medals, including Gold in the 4×100 metre freestyle relay in 2012 and 2016.

She has qualified for the 50m and 100m freestyle events in Tokyo, and will also feature in the relay teams.

Campbell said she is humbled by the opportunity to carry the Australian flag.

“It’s always an honour to represent Australia at the Olympics, but this year is even more special,” Campbell said.

“Twelve months ago, I wasn’t even sure if there would be an Olympics. The postponement threw up so many challenges for everyone. More than ever, the Olympics feels like a celebration of the human spirit; a reminder of what we can achieve if we work together. 

“Leading the Australian Team out for these Olympics carries extra significance – every one of us, rookies and seasoned Olympians alike, have had to dig deep to earn a spot on this team; and I am incredibly honoured to be leading us out,” she said.

Campbell is the first female swimmer to carry the flag for Australia at an opening ceremony.

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Mills is one of Australia’s most loved and respected athletes.

The Boomers guard made his Olympic debut in Beijing 2008. He is one of five multiple Olympians in a Tokyo men’s basketball team that features seven debutants.

He is a leader on and off the court and an advocate for his community.

“As a proud Kokatha, Naghiralgal and Dauareb-Meriam man it’s incredible. A very passionate moment I can feel in my bones,” Mills said of the opportunity.

When asked what it means to be a flag bearer, Mills spoke about the impact of previous flag bearers.

“My answer comes from how this particular person in past years, in this role, has impacted me. It’s leadership, representation and it’s insanely meaningful. It’s inspiring. It’s symbolic. It’s emblematic.

“But I think my honest answer would be, what does it mean to everyone else? What does it mean to the team? What does it mean to everyone in Australia? The thousands of ex-pats living around the world? What does it mean to the next generation? The people that have come before us? 

“Because those are the people I proudly represent and will carry the flag for.

“As the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flag Bearer my connection between our country – the land, the sky, the sea, our culture, our history and this particular moment runs extremely deep,” he said.

The International Olympic Committee has labelled the Tokyo Olympics the most gender-balanced Games in history. Female athletes account for almost 49 per cent of participants.

As part of this push for equality, the IOC has encouraged teams to be represented by one female and one male athlete.

Australia has previously nominated two athletes, a male and a female, for flag bearing duties. At the Moscow 1980 Olympics Denise Robertson-Boyd (athletics) and Max Matzker (swimming), both carried the Australian flag.

The Olympics will officially begin on July 23 with the opening ceremony. For all your Olympic coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.

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