Champion rower Mahe Drysdale has carried New Zealand's flag into the Olympic Games closing ceremony under way in London this morning.
The 33-year-old - who carried the Kiwi flag at the Beijing Games opening ceremony in 2008 - was named at a New Zealand team function at the Olympic Village.
Drysdale, the single sculls gold medallist, stood proudly in the front rank of flag bearers on the main stage as team members from 200-plus nations swarmed around the track perimeter and pressed into the stadium infield in the Parade of Athletes.
The Cambridge man was in proud company. Some of his fellow flag bearers were among the biggest stars at London 2012, including Kenya's world record breaking 800m champion David Rudisha, Great Britain's most decorated sailor Ben Ainslie, Switzerland's triathlon gold medallist Nicola Spirig and Australian yachting victor Malcolm Page.
Drysdale was a popular choice among his Kiwi peers.
"We are delighted to have named such a proud athlete who has played such an important role in creating and maintaining a positive and strong team environment,'' Chef de Mission Dave Currie said.
Drysdale - one of five New Zealand gold medallists - said he was "so honoured'' to be chosen to lead New Zealand's most successful Olympic squad for 24 years in today's Parade of Athletes.
"Winning gold was just fantastic, but being able to support other athletes as they prepare for competition has been amazing. The New Zealand Olympic Team has had some amazing performances and I am pleased I could support the whole team as they progressed through competition. It is fantastic to be a part of one of New Zealand's most successful Olympic teams ever.''
The 2012 New Zealand squad won 13 medals - equalling the record set by the 1988 team in Seoul.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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