Six-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Cate Campbell and Gold Coast 2018 Games ambassador Patty Mills, will lead the Australian Olympic Team in Tokyo
One of Australia’s most decorated Olympians, swimmer Cate Campbell, and fellow four-time Olympian, basketballer Patty Mills, will lead the Australian team as flag bearers at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games on 23 July.
The pair become the first dual flag bearers to carry the Australian flag – though not the first dual flag bearers, with Commonwealth Games alumni Denise Boyd and Max Metzker leading the Australian Team in Moscow 1980 behind an Olympic flag.
Campbell will be the ninth Commonwealth Games alumni member to carry the flag at an Olympic opening ceremony, joining rower Bobby Pearce (Amsterdam 1928), rower Merv Wood (Helsinki 1952 and Melbourne 1956), fencer Ivan Lund (Tokyo 1964), athlete Raelene Boyle (Montreal 1976), Boyd and Metzker (Moscow 1980), basketballer Lauren Jackson (London 2012), and cyclist Anna Meares (Rio 2018).
Pearce (Hamilton 1930), Lund (Cardiff 1958) and Meares (Glasgow 2014) have also had the honour of carrying the Australian flag at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.
Creating Australian Olympic history, Mills becomes the first Indigenous Australian to carry the flag at an opening ceremony while Campbell becomes the first female swimmer to do so.
Campbell is a six-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist and one of the most decorated swimmers in Australian Commonwealth Games history. Campbell debuted at the Glasgow 2014 Games winning gold in the 100m freestyle, her pet event. She would add gold medals as part of Australia’s 4x100m freestyle and 4x100m medley relay teams, and a silver in the 50m freestyle.
She returned at the Gold Coast 2018 Games to again win gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay teams, the individual 50m freestyle and butterfly titles and finished second behind younger sister Bronte Campbell in the 100m freestyle event.
A three-time Olympian, Campbell debuted as a 16-year-old at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, winning two bronze medals. At the London 2012 Olympics, Campbell won Olympic gold as part of Australia’s 4x100m freestyle relay team, joining the team again to defend their title at the Rio 2016 Olympics, her second career Olympic gold, adding silver as part of Australia’s 4x100m medley team.
NBA champion Patty Mills served as a Gold Coast Commonwealth Games ambassador and helped promote the Games to the rest of the world and throughout Far North Queensland. Mills joined a star-studded list of CGA Alumni ambassadors, including Cathy Freeman, Sally Pearson, Cameron McEvoy, Anna Meares, Laura Geitz and Kurt Fearnley.
Campbell, who celebrated with Olympic and Commonwealth Games legend Dawn Fraser and her teammates in camp in Cairns, said she was humbled to be selected.
“It’s always an honour to represent Australia at the Olympics, but this year is even more special.
“Twelve months ago, I wasn’t even sure if there would be an Olympics. The postponement threw up so many challenges for everyone. More than ever, the Olympics feels like a celebration of the human spirit; a reminder of what we can achieve if we work together.
“Leading the Australian Team out for these Olympics carries extra significance – everyone of us, rookies and seasoned Olympians alike, have had to dig deep to earn a spot on this team; and I am incredibly honoured to be leading us out.”
Patty Mills says the privilege is hard to wrap his head around.
“As a proud Kokatha, Naghiralgal and Dauareb-Meriam man it’s incredible. A very passionate moment I can feel in my bones. But what does it actually mean to me to be a flag bearer?
“My answer comes from how this particular person in past years, in this role, has impacted me. It’s leadership, representation and It’s insanely meaningful. It’s inspiring. It’s symbolic. It’s emblematic.
“But I think my honest answer would be, what does it mean to everyone else? What does it mean to the Team? What does it mean to everyone in Australia? The thousands of ex-pats living around the world? What does it mean to the next generation? The people that have come before us?
“Because those are the people I proudly represent and will carry the flag for. As the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flag Bearer my connection between our country – the land, the sky, the sea, our culture, our history and this particular moment runs extremely deep.”
Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission for Tokyo, Ian Chesterman, says each athlete offers something unique to the Australian Olympic Team but they also share common traits which influenced his decision making on who would carry the flag.
“Each is a gifted athlete and critically, a natural leader who has the respect of athletes within their chosen sports and beyond. I have no doubt Cate and Patty will have the enthusiastic support of the Australian Olympic Team.
“Equally, they are passionately committed to representing their country and carrying the responsibility that goes with that. Both have their own journeys and stories, but that pride in the green and gold shines through so strongly.