It’s official, aerial skier legend Laura Peel is one of two flag bearers for Australia in the Opening Ceremony in Beijing tomorrow night. She joins champion figure skater Brendan Kerry as the other bearer of the Aussie flag.

Together they are the first dual Australian Flag Bearers in our Winter Olympic history with Kerry, contesting his third Olympic Games, the first Flag Bearer from figure skating.

Fourteen Australians have carried the flag previously, starting with ice hockey player Vic Ekberg in 1960.

“It’s really hard to put into words how it feels to be selected as Flag Bearer for this incredible team. It’s such an honour and I’m truly grateful and so humbled to be able to lead the team into Opening Ceremony. Honestly, it feels like a dream,” said Peel this evening.

“This honour definitely goes to the top of the list. Growing up I dreamed of being an Olympian and it’s always so special to pull on the green and gold, being a Flag Bearer is beyond anything I ever dreamed of. This is such an incredible team.

“Australia has such a rich history in Aerial skiing, I’m so grateful to the athletes who came before me, like Alisa Camplin, Jacqui Cooper, Lydia Lassila, David Morris, they paved the way for us in our sport.”

Kerry says it’s a personal honour to be selected as Flag Bearer but also a wonderful thing for figure skating as a sport.

“I was absolutely speechless when Geoff told me I was going to be a Flag Bearer. It was the biggest shock and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I am honoured. I honestly thought he was calling me because there was a big problem.

“Being an Olympian is special. For me, being a Winter Olympian is another level in a finite group. To be a Flag Bearer, now cast with that select group of winter athletes before me, is amazing. I look at it as reflecting all the work, all the struggles – I see it as the acknowledgement of my peers and my country.

“I have been so fortunate in my sport, competing against the best in the world overseas. I now get to share that knowledge and experience with the up and coming athletes back home. I’d like to think that I am paving the way for a new generation.”

Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission Geoff Lipshut says the pair has earned a place in the pantheon of great winter Olympians who have led the Australian Team into the Opening Ceremony.

“Brendan is an eight-time Australian men’s figure skating champion and an absolute exemplar for his sport. He becomes a three-time Olympian at these Games and I am absolutely delighted for him,” said Lipshut.

“He has been involved in his sport from a very young age with a family heritage steeped in figure skating history. What a proud moment for Brendan and all his family, particularly his mother Monica, an Olympian from our 1988 Team competing in Calgary.

“Laura also is attending her third Olympic Games and arrives here in exceptional form. That really flows from her absolute professionalism and attention to detail as an athlete.

“She has always set a great example in how she goes about her sport – dedicated and determined and constantly seeking to advance her considerable skills. It’s these attributes that make her an outstanding candidate for this important role.

“These two young Australians lead an exceptional group of young Australians in our Team – a real balance of youth and experience.”

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