Rio 2016: Sailors as Flag bearers
Published on August 5th, 2016
(August 5, 2016) – Sailing will have more flag bearers than Beijing 2008 and London 2012 combined at the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the Maracana Stadium. In total, 13 athletes will lead their nation around the stadium this evening for the eyes of the world to witness.
But who are sailing’s flag bearers and where do they come from? Read up on a star studded cast of athletes below:
Sofia Bekatorou – Greece
Rio 2016 will be Sofia Bekatorou’s fourth Olympic Games as an athlete. A four-time World Champion in the 470, a two-person dinghy, Bekatorou won gold at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games in the same event with Emilia Tsoulfa. Four years later, she won bronze in the Yngling, a three-person keelboat, at Beijing 2008. In addition, she is also a two-time World Sailor of the Year recipient. At Rio 2016, she will compete in the Nacra 17, a Mixed Multihull, with Michalis Pateniotis.
Nicole Van der Velden – Aruba
Nicole van der Velden was the first Aruban athlete to qualify the nation to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The 21-year-old sailed at the inaugural Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games. At Rio 2016 she will be sailing in the Mixed Multihull (Nacra 17) with Thijs Visser.
Pavlos Kontides – Cyprus
Pavlos Kontides won his nations first ever Olympic medal at London 2012, a silver in the Laser class, a one-person dinghy. Overnight he became a national sensation and superstar. He is considered one of the top contenders in the Laser and Rio 2016 will be his third Olympic Games following a 13th place finish at Beijing 2008.
Karl Martin Rammo – Estonia
Karl Martin Rammo follows in the footsteps of his compatriot Tonu Toniste by becoming the second Olympic sailor to carry the Estonian flag at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. The 27-year-old is a consistent performer on the Olympic sailing circuit and will be fighting at the front of the Laser pack at Rio 2016.
Tuuli Petaja-Siren – Finland
Tuuli Petaja-Siren snapped up a silver medal in the Women’s Windsurfing (RS:X) event at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Considered an outsider before the event, Petaja-Siren peaked when it mattered on the shores of Weymouth and Portland, Great Britain. For her achievements, Petaja-Siren was named Finnish Sports Athlete of the Year for 2012. Rio 2016 will be the 32-year-olds third Olympic Games.
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke – New Zealand
49er sailors, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have been unstoppable since they won silver at London 2012, winning 27 regattas in a row. Their only defeat in the Rio 2016 quad came at the 2016 South American Championships in Rio de Janeiro where they finished third. They have won all four World Championships and will be firm favorites in Rio. Burling was named as the official flag bearer but officialdom aside; the pair will co-captain the New Zealand Olympic Team and walk around the stadium as a team.
Vasilij Zbogar – Slovenia
Rio 2016 will be Vasilij Zbogar’s fifth Olympic Games. The Slovenian won his first Olympic medal at Athens 2004, a bronze and followed it up with a silver at Beijing 2008 in the Laser class. He sailed the Finn Men’s Heavyweight Dinghy, the Finn, at London 2012 and will sail it again in Rio.
Gintare Scheidt – Lithuania
Gintare Scheidt won silver at Beijing 2008 in the Laser Radial, narrowly missing out on gold. In the build-up to London 2012 she won the Laser Radial World Championship title in Boltenhagen, Germany. She finished sixth at London 2012. Wife of Brazilian sailing legend, Robert Scheidt, Gintare won gold at the 2015 Olympic Test Event and will be considered a serious contender in Rio.
Joao Rodrigues – Portugal
Windsurfer Joao Rodrigues has competed at six Olympic Games and at 44-years-old he has signified that Rio 2016 will be his final Olympic Games. Over his career Rodrigues has amassed more than 50 medals in international competition. His best Olympic result was at Athens 2004, where he finished sixth in the Mistral event. Rodrigues started sailing at the age of nine and throughout his sporting career, he also completed a degree in mechanical engineering. In 2013, Rodrigues was awarded the Medal of Merit for his services to Olympism but the Portuguese National Olympic Committee.
Rodney Govinden – Seychelles
Rodney Govinden is one of three sailors from Seychelles competing at Rio 2016 and will race in the Laser. He qualified at the African qualification regatta and his hero is teammate Allen Julie who will make his fifth Olympic appearance at Rio 2016. Govinden won the Seychelles Sportsman of the Year in 2015 for qualifying his nation to Rio 2016 and winning gold and silver medals at the 2015 Indian Ocean Island Games.
Dolores Moreira – Uruguay
One of sailing’s youngest competitors, Dolores Moreira was the first Uruguayan qualifier for Rio 2016, booking her spot on the start line after a silver medal in the Laser Radial at the Pan American Games in 2015. Moreira, nickname Lola, will be the youngest flag bearer in Uruguay’s history. She competed at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games.
Cy Thompson – U.S. Virgin Islands
Cy Thompson of the U.S. Virgin Islands was one of the first athletes from his nation to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, doing it at the first opportunity available, the 2014 World Championships in Santander, Spain. Rio 2016 will be Thompson’s second Olympic Games after he finished 25th at London 2012.
Source: World Sailing
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