Hoy delighted to be carrying British flag at Olympics opening ceremony

Sir Chris Hoy has been selected to carry the British flag at the glittering opening ceremony on Friday.

As revealed by Sportsmail, the four-time Olympic champion won the vote of British athletes and officials over the weekend.

Hoy will lead out Team GB in the athletes’ parade in front of 80,000 spectators in the stadium and more than a billion TV viewers worldwide.

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Sir Chris Hoy with the GB flag
Sir Chris Hoy with the GB flag

Proud:  Sir Chris Hoy poses with the GB flag at Celtic Manor in Wales along with Chef de Mission Andy Hunt

Proud: Sir Chris Hoy (left) poses with the GB flag with Chef de Mission  Andy Hunt at Celtic Manor in Wales

He tweeted: 'Delighted to be able to say that I'll be carrying the flag at the Opening Ceremony! Massive honour!'

Hoy later said: 'The team is not due to travel until the Saturday, chances are I probably would not have gone so it's a great opportunity for me in my last Olympics.

'It will be something special and especially with it being the home Games it will be quite an experience.

'It's the stuff of dreams and I am still in shock a little bit at receiving such a huge honour.'

Team GB's Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said: 'Team GB could not have placed the flag in better hands. It is a great honour for Sir Chris and the team will be proud to march behind him. He is a fantastic ambassador for his sport and his country.'

Brian Cookson, president of British Cycling, said: 'To be selected as a flagbearer at any Olympic Games is a great honour but to be selected for the home Games is an extra special achievement and I'd like to personally congratulate Sir Chris.

In your face: Hoy was selected for his astonishing record at previous Olympics

In your face: Hoy was selected for his astonishing record at previous Olympics

'Chris has been an outstanding ambassador to the sport of cycling throughout his extensive career, and we're proud that he is a fellow member of British Cycling. To have Chris carry the flag on behalf of Great Britain is another milestone in the success of cycling in Britain.'

Hoy’s role represents another honour for the boom sport of cycling, following Bradley Wiggins’s historic Tour de France victory, with another bumper haul of medals expected on both the road and track at the Olympics.

Hoy, 36, will lead out a dramatically depleted home team. Although Britain’s 542-athlete delegation is the largest at the Games, only half that number are expected to march, due to their sporting priorities over the coming days.

Britain’s status as host nation means they will be last to march — at close to midnight. Scheduling made it too difficult for one of Hoy’s provisional flag-bearing rivals, Ben Ainslie, to be seriously considered for the job.

The three-time Olympic champion is due to compete in Weymouth, Dorset, 36 hours after the opening extravaganza finishes 150 miles away in Stratford, east London.

Ainslie said last month that he would not be attending the  ceremony, although it is  understood that had he won the vote the BOA would have laid on a helicopter to allow him to carry the flag.

Celebration time: Sir Chris Hoy (fourth left) watches the final stages of the Tour de France during their training session at Newport

Celebration time: Sir Chris Hoy (fourth left) watches the final stages of the Tour de France during their training session at Newport

Unlike Ainslie, Hoy has no timing dilemma because he is not due to compete until the second week of the Games, when he will try to surpass rower Sir Steve Redgrave’s British record of five gold medals. He will compete in track cycling’s team sprint and keirin.

The flag-bearer is traditionally a veteran of several Olympics, making former bronze-medal archer Alison Williamson, who is taking part in her sixth successive Games, a strong contender.

However, Hoy still fits the criteria amply, having won a silver medal at Sydney 2000, one gold at Athens 2004 and an unforgettable three golds in Beijing four years ago.

He is also recognised as a fine ambassador for British sport, having been the enduring face of cycling’s high profile over the past decade.

Hoy said the impact of Bradley Wiggins' Tour de France victory had reverberated around the British Olympic cycling team.

He said: 'The general feeling is just of sheer excitement and anticipation. It is reaching fever pitch.'

He also warned Wiggins that his life will now change dramatically - that is likely to be even more the case should the 32-year-old become cycling's next knight of the realm.

'Any accolades or honours that come his way will be fully deserved,' added Hoy.

'In the cycling world he's a superstar already, he's used to a lot of attention wherever he travels. In the UK that is where the real change will happen when he is walking about.

'I think his life will change drastically, but I think he will handle it very well, I don't see him changing and he'll be just the same Bradley we have always known.

Last time out: Mark Foster lead out the delegation in Beijing

Last time out: Mark Foster lead out the delegation in Beijing

'I've know Bradley since he was 16 and have seen him go through the ranks to be a champion in every single facet of the sport that he has participated in.

'There's a side to Bradley you don't always see, very humorous, he's a fun guy to be with, but he leads from the front, he can produce the goods.'

It was cycling that propelled Britain to fourth place in the medals table in Beijing with seven golds out of the total of 19, and Hoy hopes all-round Tour de France success - three other members of the British Olympic team also won stages apart from Wiggins - has put the team into the perfect place.

'We keep mentioning golden eras, and after Beijing we thought that was as good as things could be, but to have this success in a truly global event such as the Tour de France is remarkable,' he said.

'In the cycling camp things could not be going much better, training wise and morale. To see the road guys in the Tour de France performing so well and achieving historic things day by day, not just the overall win.

'Cycling has received a huge profile boost and hopefully we can continue that in Olympics.

'Hopefully it will get even more popular in the UK and we will get more people onto bikes. We could have so many positives not just for Olympics, but for the health of the nation and reducing congestion, I hope that can continue.'

VIDEO: Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy reacts to news he will be flagbearer at London!...