Sochi 2014: Jon Eley to carry flag for GB at opening ceremony

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Olympic sports reporter in Sochi
Great honour to carry GB flag - Eley

Speed skater Jon Eley will be the British flagbearer at Sochi 2014's opening ceremony on Friday.

The 29-year-old will be competing in his third Winter Olympics.

Eley, from Solihull, said carrying the flag would be "an amazing privilege and a moment that I will treasure for the rest of my life".

He takes over from Sir Chris Hoy, who carried the flag at London 2012, and Shelley Rudman, who had the honour at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

Eley leads a 56-strong British team tasked by funding body UK Sport with winning at least three medals at these Games, a feat not achieved by Britain since 1936.

"It's a very strong team, a group of winners," Eley told BBC Sport. "I'd like to think we can be a very successful team on this trip."

Other past flagbearers have included rowing duo Sir Matthew Pinsent (2000) and Sir Steve Redgrave (1992 and 1996), and ice dancer Christopher Dean (1984).

"To be representing Team GB for my third time is a great honour and being selected as the flagbearer has made it unbelievable," said Eley.

"To see Chris Hoy so emotional when he carried the flag into London after what he'd done in his career showed how special it was."

Mike Hay, the British chef de mission in Sochi, said: "Jon is widely respected by his team-mates across Team GB and he is certainly deserving of this tremendous honour."

Eley's best finishes in his previous appearances have both come in short track skating's shortest distance, the 500m, in which he finished fifth in 2006 and sixth in 2010. The 500m event begins on 18 February in Sochi.

Eley also led the British men's relay team to a world-record time in the 2011 World Championships in Dresden, though GB failed to earn a berth in the relay event at Sochi 2014.

The only other short track skater to have carried the flag for GB at an opening ceremony is Wilf O'Reilly, who did so in 1992.

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