Paris, July 25 (IANS) Judo’s eight-time world champion Teddy Riner has been officially named to bear the French delegation’s flag at the opening ceremony of next month’s Rio Olympic Games.
Twin Olympic gold medal winner in fencing Laura Flessel-Colovic, who was France’s flag bearer four years ago in London, symbolically presented the tricolor to Riner on the podium of Tour de France at Champs-Elysees on Sunday, reports Xinhua.
“It’s a great honor, a great pride to have been elected by my peers,” said Riner. “Now, the Olympic dream begins. I want everyone to take pleasure, give their all and bring a lot of medals.”
The 26-year-old will lead a selection of 397 French athletes competing in all 28 Olympic sports except field hockey to march into the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 5.
He emerged from nine candidates including NBA star Tony Parker and pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie as 52 representitives of the French Olympians voted through electronic bulletins.
Riner will also take the role of captain to Team France and the ambassador of Paris Olympic bid for the 2024 Games.
“Teddy is a great champion who concentrates all the values of Olympism,” said Denis Masseglia, president of the French national Olympic Committee and head of the French delegation to Rio.
Unbeaten since 2010, Riner is defending his 100kg title in Rio as the third judoka to bear flag for France at the Olympic opening ceremony following Angelo Parisi in 1984 and David Douillet in 2000.
Six other delegations have designated a judoka as their respect flag bearer in Rio, namely Sonia Asselah of Algeria, Avtandil Tchrikishvili of Georgia, Majlinda Kelmendi of Kosovo, Asaramanitra Ratiarison of Madagascar, Yann Siccardi of Monaco and Temuulen Battulga of Mongolia.