Tauranga woman flagbearer at Olympics

A Tauranga woman will carry the flag for the Cook Islands at next months Rio Olympics.

Canoeist Ella Nicholas will be flagbearer during the the Olympic Games’ opening ceremony on August 5.

Tauranga canoeist Ella Nicholas. File.

The parade will see athletes and officials from each participating country march around the Maracana Stadium preceded by their flag and placard bearer.

Cook Islands Chef de Mission Robert Graham told Cook Islands News the honour has been given to Ella for her outstanding performances throughout her sporting career.

“With this being one of the best high-performance teams we have ever sent to an Olympic Games - and the biggest - the task of selection was very difficult,” says Robert.

“In saying that, we believe that Nicholas did shine over the others and a final decision was made.

Ella will represent the Cook Islands in the Women’s K1 Canoe Slalom.

The canoeist is a qualified doctor and a role model for Cook Islands women in sport and according to Graham, she has competed for the Cook Islands in canoe slalom since 2007 and in more recent years juggled her sport with the demands of university and medical studies.

“She started paddling as a 12-year-old through school at Tauranga Girls’ College in New Zealand where she excelled in a number of sports.

“This will be her second Olympics. She competed at the 2012 London Olympic Games and was placed among the top 18 finishers,” he says.

In keeping with Olympic traditions, Greece will enter the parade first, while Brazil, the host nation, will enter last. Other countries go in alphabetical order in the language of Brazil, which is Portuguese.

The Cook Islands will be the 90th country to march.

The team’s management left on Thursday for Rio de Janeiro for final team logistic preparations before the first athletes and officials arrive on July 24.                

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