Australian Pistol athlete Elena Galiabovitch was recognised for her frontline medical work in the Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony. (Photo: Shooting Australia)

Australian Pistol athlete Elena Galiabovitch earned the honour of carrying the Olympic flag at the Opening Ceremony for her front-line medical work.

Despite the joy of the Opening Ceremony, Tokyo 2020 also serves as a stark reminder of the grip that COVID-19 still has on the world.

The stunning broadcast featured images of empty Japanese streets and athletes preparing at home in the lead up to the opening of the delayed Games.

There’s been no one more deserving of recognition than the frontline medical workers who have toiled day and night all across the world, fighting the pandemic at its most dangerous.

Australian Pistol athlete Elena Galiabovitch was one of the six front line medical workers who earned the enormous honour of carrying the Olympic flag.

She described the moment as the greatest honour in her sporting career.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would ever help carry the Olympic flag at an Opening Ceremony,” Galiabovitch said.

“I’m humbled and honoured to have been invited to participate in carrying the Olympic flag.

“Not only am I representing the continent of Oceania and all its athletes, but I am privileged to be representing the Australian Olympic Team, the 15-member Australian Shooting team, and all front-line medical workers who have done such a magnificent job under very difficult circumstances over the past 18 months.”

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In addition to training consistently for the past four years for the 10m Air Pistol and 25m Pistol events, Galiabovitch has also been training to become a urological surgeon. She’s spent the past year in hospital COVID-19 wards and drive-in clinics.

Galiabovitch will be searching for her first Olympic medal alongside her father Vladimir, who’s acting as her coach once again after also doing so at Rio 2016.

Elena Galiabovitch with father and Pistol coach Vladimir at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. (Photo: Shooting Australia)

Australian Chef de Mission, Ian Chesterman, congratulated Galiabovitch on her incredible achievement.

“It was 21 years ago at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games when eight of Australia’s greatest Olympians namely Murray Rose, Marjorie Jackson, Michael Wenden, Bill Roycroft, Liane Tooth, Gillian Rolton, Lorraine Crapp and Nick Green carried the Olympic flag around the Sydney Olympic Stadium,” Chesterman said.

“Elena has contributed to the health and welfare of Australians and Australian communities through the pandemic while training for the Tokyo Olympics.

“We are proud to have her in this Olympic team and applaud her recognition in being a flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony.”

Galiabovitch will open her Olympic campaign on Sunday with the 10m Air Pistol qualifiers.


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