18/04/2024
Patty Mills Flagbearer

Patty Mills is a top contender to be Australia's flagbearers Source: NBA www.nba.com

The Australian Flagbearer is a high honour for one of Australia's Olympians, and a chance to recognise the contribution they have made. The Inner Sanctum took their pick.

There is plenty of talk about who should be the Australian Flagbearer at the Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony. It’s a debate that is a chance to recognise many athletes who have made outstanding contributions to Australia and Australian sport.

Anna Meares had the honour in 2016 at the Rio Olympics, as a reflection of her work in cycling, and as a role model for women in sport.

With so much debate and so many options, The Inner Sanctum picked some of the best candidates to carry the flag at the Opening Ceremony.

Eddie Ockenden

4x Olympian (2008, 2012, 2016, 2020), 2 x Bronze medalist (2008, 2012)

Tasmania has yet to have a flag bearer, so what better time than now for the Australian Olympic Committee to select their first in Eddie Ockenden?

After 15 years of service to the Kookaburras, the four-time Olympian makes a strong case to be a flag bearer for Tokyo 2020 with a long, and superb resume behind him.

As one of Australia’s most decorated hockey players in recent times, Ockenden is a member of two bronze medal-winning teams and is a co-captain of the Kookaburras. Earlier this year, he surpassed Jamie Dwyer as the most capped Australian player, with 370 international caps to date and many more to come in Tokyo.

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Many are touting the Kookaburras as one of Australia’s best chances for gold in Tokyo- ranked number one in the world by the FIH with a long history of Olympic success behind them.

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As hockey is Australia’s most successful Olympic team sport, it’s fitting that Ockenden joins Ric Charlesworth (1988), Eric Pearce (1968) and Robert Haigh (1976) in the list of Hockey players to bear the flag for Australia.

Rebecca Ruthven

Stacey Porter

2x Olympian (2004, 2008), 1x Silver medallist (2004), 1x Bronze medallist (2008)

Softball makes its return to the Olympic program in 2021 after a 13-year absence and there would be no sweeter way to celebrate than by announcing the Aussie Spirit captain Stacey Porter as Australia’s flagbearer for Tokyo.

A proud Indigenous Australian, Porter is one of only two current Spirit members with Olympic experience and her story is the epitome of hard work, determination and resilience. The 39-year-old is the most-capped softballer in the world, representing her country 441 times.

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After 2008, Porter took it upon herself to continue to play at a professional level and ended up in the Japan Softball League where she’s been competing for 13 seasons. It’s values like this of always seeking opportunities that enforces her to impart her knowledge and skill onto others and foresee the viability of softball into the future.

Though softball’s return is only momentary and will again be taken out of the Olympic schedule for Paris in 2024, right now, it would act as a reward for effort for Porter and the many softball players to see their sport highlighted and praised on this scale.

Aussie softballers full of Spirit, first plane off the runway for Tokyo 2020

As well, the selection of Porter to carry Australia’s flag into the Opening Ceremony would be a huge chance to show the nation and its softball community the commitment to the sport at a national and international level.

Jason Irvine

Patty Mills

3x Olympian (2008, 2012, 2016)

There are few Australian athletes who are as universally loved and respected as Patty Mills. In what will be the NBA Champion’s fourth, and possibly last Olympics, getting to be Australia’s flagbearer would be a fitting honour. 

Mills is a leader both on and off the court.

He has been a fixture in the Boomers’ line-up and always elevates his play on the world stage, averaging 22.8 points a game at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. A San Antonio Spur for nearly a decade, he became the first Australian in NBA history to hit 1,000 career 3-pointers in 2020.

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He is a leader for Indigenous communities and rights, creating and supporting numerous campaigns and causes.

Credit: San Antonie Spurs – Youtube

The latest being the Indigenous Community Basketball League, which saw him nominated for the NBA Cares Community Assist Award.

Andrew Gaze (Sydney 2000) and Lauren Jackson (London 2012) are the only basketballers to experience the honour of being flagbearers, and Mills certainly wouldn’t look out of place alongside them.

His recent care and support for Ben Simmons, after the multiple-time All-Star withdrew from the Boomers’ squad on Tuesday, speaks to the culture Mills has helped foster and grow among the group.

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Beyond helping Australia win its first international medal in basketball, Mills as the country’s flagbearer is something everyone would leave to see.

Hamish Spence

Jenna O’Hea

2x Olympian (2012,2020) x1 Bronze medalist (2012)

In 2012, Opal Lauren Jackson was our flag bearer but looking forward to the 2020 games is it time we see another Opal holding the Australian flag come the opening ceremony? 

If there is one Opal to do it, Jenna O’Hea will be at the top of the list, current captain of the Opals and has had an outstanding career to date, not just nationally but internationally as well.

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O’Hea was a part of the 2012 Bronze medal win in London and the 2018 gold medal win at the Commonwealth games. As well as winning several WNBL titles including the 2020 championship with the Southside Flyers as well as being named in several WNBL all-star fives.

If selected O’Hea will be just the third basketballer to fly the Australian flag come the opening of the games with Andrew Gaze (2000) and as previously mentioned Lauren Jackson ( 2012).

She may have not been to as many Olympics as some of the other names that will feature on this list but that certainly doesn’t mean she isn’t a valuable part of Australian sport.

 A trailblazer in her sport and women’s sport as a whole and a natural-born leader that will be a great candidate to be Australia’s flag bearer.

Elly McNerney

Mat Belcher

2x Olympian (2012, 2016) 1x Gold medallist (2012) 1x Silver medallist (2016)

Belcher has had an illustrious sailing career where he has become one of Australia’s greatest sailors of all time.

Belcher has formed two of the most successful partnerships in Australian sailing history in the Men’s 470 class alongside Malcolm Page and current partner Will Ryan.

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While still at school Belcher won the 2000 World Championship in the 420 class alongside his brother Daniel.

Following this Australian Olympic Committee President, John Coates invited Belcher to carry a flag at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Belcher has said that it was at that moment his dream of becoming an Olympian was born.

Since then Belcher has become an eight-time world champion in the men’s 470 class, 2012 Olympic gold medallist and 2016 Olympic silver medallist.

He has also been awarded the Male Sailor of the Year at the Australian Sailing Awards five times, been named in the Australian Institute of Sport Awards, Team of the Year twice and in 2013 won the Rolex ISAF World Sailor of the Year.

Heading to Tokyo 2020, Belcher and partner Will Ryan are favourites to win the Two Person Dinghy 470 class, having won the world championship in 2019 on the Olympic course in Japan.

With Australia’s dominance in water sports such as swimming and rowing at the Olympics it is often forgotten how successful our sailors have been, collecting 11 golds, eight silvers and eight bronzes in our history.

Therefore, giving Belcher the honour of being Australia’s flagbearer will be a great way to pay tribute to his success while representing Australia.

Belcher’s dream of becoming an Olympian in 2000 would come full circle if he gets to lead Australia out as the flagbearer in Tokyo and would cap off a hall of fame career.

Ben Filosi

Cate Campbell

4x Olympian (2008, 2012, 2016, 2020), 2x Bronze medalist, 1x Silver medalist, 2x Gold medalist

Is there a better role model for young Australian athletes than a female athlete who has publicly overcome her demons?

Campbell went to her first Olympics aged just 16 and came away with two bronze medals, one as an individual and one as a member of the relay team.

Throughout her career, Campbell has been a champion of social causes, and advocacy for health. In 2015, she publicly discussed her struggles with body image and has become a strong advocate for healthy body image. 

She is also on the mend from a diagnosis of Stage 1 melanoma in 2018. She has since become a fierce advocate for skin checks and sun safety, as well as her existing body image advocacy. 

After a successful career as a relay and individual swimmer, Campbell exemplifies so many of the values held high in Australian sport. She is one of the three female swimmers to have qualified for four Olympic Games and has a high level of success.

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As a swimmer, she is one of the athletes who will be at the Opening Ceremony, as her events start the following day, and is a member of the Dolphins, one of Australia’s most successful and prolific teams, and one that lives in the public consciousness. 

As an exemplary advocate for social causes and as a trailblazer for women in sport, Campbell is a perfect choice for flagbearer for Tokyo 2020.

Daniel Coppel

Matthew Glaetzer

3x Olympian (2012, 2016, 2020)

A track cyclist from South Australia, Glaetzer has represented Australia at two previous games, finishing fourth in the Team Sprint in both 2012 and 2016, while also competing in the individual sprint and Keirin events at the latter games, finishing fourth and tenth respectively.

Yet despite his previous Olympic appearances, Glaetzer’s journey to Tokyo 2020 has been marked by resilience and determination.

At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Glaetzer won Gold in the Keirin and 1km Time Trial events, as Australia cleaned up in the cycling events.

However, in October 2019, Glaetzer would be diagnosed with thyroid cancer, putting a spanner in the works of his preparation for the Tokyo Games.

He underwent an operation the following month to have the tumour removed and now has to take medication to help maintain his metabolism, due to the way his thyroid gland was impacted by cancer.

And in early 2020, Glaetzer suffered a torn calf and was sidelined during the ideal preparation time, struggling to return to the track before the Games was ultimately postponed.

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With the obstacles he’s overcome on the journey to Tokyo, Glaetzer would be a fantastic pick to be Australia’s flagbearer – with the great determination, resilience and strength it’s taken him to overcome these.

Will Cuckson

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1 thought on “Who should be the Australian Flagbearer at Tokyo 2020

  1. The Australian flag bearer should be Ash Barty for winning her 2nd grand slam title and for being the first Australian women to win Wimbledon since Evonne Goolagong won it in 1980 – 41 years ago. Ash Barty I has also been a very good ambassador for Australia of the tennis courts as well.

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