LONDON – Sir Chris Hoy will carry Britain’s flag at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games Friday, the four-time Olympic champion confirmed Monday.
“I’m absolutely delighted and honored to have been voted as the flag bearer for Team GB,” said the 36-year-old cyclist.
“To lead out your team at a home Olympics is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that I can’t wait to experience in just a few days time.”
Hoy also carried the Union Jack at the closing ceremony in Beijing four years ago.
The Scot is one of Britain’s most successful Olympians, having won four gold medals, including three at Beijing in 2008.
Brian Cookson, President of British Cycling, told the BBC: “It’s absolutely fantastic news. Sir Chris is a brilliant athlete and a fantastic ambassador for the sport of cycling.
“Just when you think it can’t get any better it does – it is the cherry on the cake for British Cycling after Bradley Wiggins’ success in the Tour de France on Sunday.
“Hoy is reaching his potential just at the right time in the sport and deserves this pivotal role at London 2012.”
Meanwhile London 2012 supremo Sebastian Coe insisted it was not down to him to select the person who would light the torch at Friday’s ceremony, amidst reports he’d been pushing the claims of fellow double Olympic gold medalist Daley Thompson over those of multiple Games rowing champion Steve Redgrave.
Decathlon great Thompson, like former middle-distance runner Coe, won gold at both the 1980 Olympics in Moscow and four years later in Los Angeles and the two men are friends.
However, Coe said the issue of the torch-lighter would be decided by the opening ceremony teams headed by film and stage directors Danny Boyle and Stephen Daldry.
That appeared to contradict BOA chief executive Andy Hunt, who on Saturday stated it would be a joint decision between the BOA and London 2012.
“It will be a judgment made by our creative teams led by Danny Boyle and Stephen Daldry, and of course I will be a part of that but I have been very, very clear that it is not my call,” Coe said Monday.
“I am certainly not pushing one person over another, and it still has not been decided, absolutely not.”
Traditionally, the identity of the torch-lighter is one of any Games’ best kept secrets until the climax of the opening ceremony and can, as was the case with boxing great Muhammad Ali at Atlanta in 1996, provide an Olympics with one of its most enduring images.
Other names put forward for the torch-lighting role include David Beckham, Kelly Holmes, Roger Bannister – the first man to run a mile in under four minutes – and Mary Peters, gold medalist in the women’s pentathlon at the 1972 Olympics.
Coe added: “Do I have a view on this personally or privately? Yes of course. “Have I asked our creative teams to get their minds around this? Yes I have. Have we made a judgement about this? No, we haven’t.
“Is Daley Thompson a really close friend of mine? Yes he is, it’s probably not the best-kept secret that he’s probably my closest friend, and do I get on well with Steve Redgrave? Yes I do.”
Stewart joins torch run
The Olympic flame has boldly gone to Wimbledon. Actor Patrick Stewart, best known as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” took a turn on the torch relay Monday.
Before he did, tennis stars Andy Murray and Venus Williams posed with the flame on Center Court at Wimbledon in southwest London.
The flame also is scheduled to pass through the set of the long-running British soap opera, “EastEnders.” The torch relay is on its final leg, touring the neighborhoods of host city London before being taken to the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony Friday.
Transport woes hit London
Key rail links to London’s Olympic Park suffered major disruption Monday, raising fresh concerns about the British capital’s creaking transport network just four days before the Games.
Traffic jams also built up on several main roads leading into London amid work to prepare them to be special link routes to the Games, which begin Friday.
During the Monday morning rush hour delays hit two lines on the Underground subway system, the Jubilee and Central Lines, while a key overground rail link and the elevated Docklands light railway system also had problems.
All four lines go to Stratford, the station in east London where the Olympic Park is located and where hundreds of thousands of passengers will be disembarking in coming days. — Agencies