Bond and Hirini named New Zealand flag bearers for Tokyo 2020
Women’s rugby sevens captain Sarah Hirini and two-time Olympic rowing gold medalist Hamish Bond have been announced as New Zealand flag bearers for the Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony.
The joint flag bearer announcement follows confirmation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that nations could jointly select a male and female athlete.
Both athletes will fly the flag at the opening ceremony on July 23.
Hirini and Bond confirmed to standard bearers by New Zealand Head of Mission Rob Waddell at a team meeting in Auckland.
“Sarah and Hamish are exceptional athletes and are also leaders off the field,” said Waddell.
“These athletes are role models and bring a tremendous amount of mana to our team.
“I am extremely proud to name them flag bearers.
“They will follow in the footsteps of some of New Zealand’s greatest sportsmen when they lead the New Zealand team to the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games on July 23.”
The New Zealand Olympic Committee said it took a wide range of factors into account, including past performance, ability to lead and inspire New Zealand athletes, competition readiness and performance standards.
Hirini was part of the New Zealand squad that won the Rugby Sevens World Cup title in 2013, as well as the Commonwealth Games Gold Coast 2018 title and an Olympic silver medal in Rio 2016 .
She is also a six-time World Rugby Sevens Series champion and was part of the New Zealand team that won the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017.
Hirini was named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2019.
“It means a lot to me and my family,” Hirini said.
“Being able to carry the flag and represent the women’s rugby sevens team and the New Zealand team at large at the opening ceremony will be a huge honor.
“I look forward to representing my country at these Games.”
Bond is set to compete in the fourth Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020, making his debut in the men’s coxless four at Beijing 2008.
He won two consecutive Olympic gold medals in a men’s duet with his partner Eric Murray in London 2012 and Rio 2016.
Bond returned to the sport in 2019 after a two-year stint in cycling, which included a bronze medal in the men’s time trial at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Bond will be a key part of New Zealand’s men’s eight-man squad at Tokyo 2020.
“If you look at the people who have been our flagship bearers over the years, this is a pretty amazing group of athletes so this opportunity is really special to me,” said Bond.
“Our standard bearers have represented us with distinction, pride and respect in the past and I am truly honored to add my name to this list.”
Bond and Hirini received the New Zealand team’s Kākahu when they were individually confirmed as standard bearers, with Hirini receiving his in a private ceremony before traveling to compete in the Oceania Championships in rugby sevens.
The Kākahu is a cape worn only by the flag bearer of the New Zealand Olympic teams and is a symbol of the Maori traditions central to the team’s culture.
It was first worn in Athens in 2004.
Sir Peter Snell was the flag bearer for the New Zealand team the last time New Zealand competed in the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.