Basketballer Patty Mills has been unveiled as Australia’s first-ever Indigenous flag bearer at the Tokyo Olympics, alongside freestyle swimmer Cate Campbell, who’ll be the first female swimmer to carry the flag, 7News reports.
The choice of two flag bearers comes after the International Olympic Committee mandated for the first time that each competing nation must have both a male and female athlete carry the flag at the opening ceremony.
“It’s such an honour and a massive privilege,” said Mills, who’ll be the first Indigenous person to lead Australia since we started competing back in 1896.
“As a proud Kokatha, Naghiralgal and Dauareb-Meriam man it’s incredible. A very passionate moment I can feel in my bones.”
For my people. pic.twitter.com/IyKF3gHNwT
— Patrick Mills (@Patty_Mills) July 7, 2021
Mills – who is both a Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal man – said that while there hadn’t been any discussion about carrying the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander flags at the opening ceremony, he’d still bring them along to Tokyo anyway.
“It’s one of those things that I am always going to carry those flags wherever I may be […] being able to be a proud representative of our culture, our Australian culture, it’s always going to be there,” he said.
Mills has previously competed as part of the Australian basketball team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2012 London Olympics, and the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympics.
Meanwhile, fellow three-time Olympian Cate Campbell added that she’s also proud to be the first female swimmer to carry the Aussie flag.
“It’s right up there with one of the greatest things that has happened to me,” she said.
“It’s one thing to represent your country in a sport that you love, and another thing to be able to represent your fellow Olympians.”
After the announcement on Wednesday night, she added: “‘Honoured’ and ‘privileged’ are the two words I have said a lot tonight, but neither can fully convey my emotions right now.”
Australia’s Olympic chef de mission Ian Chesterman naturally hyped up both three-time Olympians ahead of the big day.
“Each is a gifted athlete and critically, a natural leader who has the respect of athletes within their chosen sports and beyond,” he said.
Assuming there aren’t any more delays, the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics is set to be held on July 23. It’s set to be a groundbreaking night.