New Zealanders welcomed into Games village

MARK GEENTY IN GLASGOW
Last updated 08:17 21/07/2014
Athletes' welcome
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ

The New Zealand Commonwealth Games team being welcomed into the Athletes' Village by members of the Glasgow Youth Theatre group.

Chad Milnes
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ
Auckland boxer Chad Milnes carrying in the unofficial flag as the New Zealand Commonwealth Games team was welcomed into the Athletes' Village in Glasgow.

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Little-known boxer Chad Milnes was left holding the New Zealand flag and basked in his 15 minutes of fame in the Commonwealth Games village.

Dwarfed by team chef de mission Rob Waddell at the front, and with big names like swimmer Lauren Boyle and triathlete Andrea Hewitt back in the pack, the 60kg lightweight led around 175 New Zealand athletes into the international zone of the athletes' village for their flag-raising ceremony. On a warm Glasgow evening it wasn't by design, but the 22-year-old Aucklander seized his proud moment at his first Games.

"I was the first one here and one of the volunteers asked me if I wanted to hold the flag and I said 'yep, why not'," Milnes said.

"All of a sudden, hey, I'm at the front and I've got the flag... I saw the cameras so I was pretty stoked about that. I might become somebody. It was pretty cool; I was honoured to lead them in."

The actual flagbearer for Thursday morning's (NZT) opening ceremony at Celtic Park is yet to be revealed but Milnes provided a steady hand at the helm for the team's first official Games engagement.

It's a Games tradition that each of the 71 countries or territories receives an official welcome, watches their flag raised and hears their anthem, and New Zealand shared their moment with Guernsey and Norfolk Island. It also provided some nuggets of pub trivia knowledge. Norfolk Island has God Save The Queen as its anthem and it has a Norfolk Pine on its green and white flag, while Guernsey, did you know, has a red St George Cross with a gold cross on top.

Most of New Zealand's 232-strong team were there in their black uniforms, minus the rugby sevens and netball squads, due to arrive tomorrow, and the athletics squad (in camp in Cardiff) and the shooters (staying near the range at Carnoustie). Both hockey squads, the swimmers, boxers, triathletes, bowlers and judokas were among the throngs.

They were entertained by the National Youth Theatre, a troupe of 30 performers described by one sage as Glee with kilts. Their colourful dance routine had the Kiwis and the islanders from Norfolk and Guernsey engrossed, along with a few curious passersby from Papua New Guinea, Barbados and Namibia.

Then with a menacing roar of "welcome to Scotland', it was over and they were officially welcomed by Steve Frew, who shot to prominence as the first Scottish gymnast to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal, at Manchester in 2002 at his fourth Games.

"It's a place to feel at home, and also have the time of your life," he told the athletes of their home for the next fortnight.

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