Olympic, Paralympic flagbearers feted by prime minister

Steve Larkin |

Olympic and Paralympic flagbearers gather on the red carpet for the prime minister’s dinner.
Olympic and Paralympic flagbearers gather on the red carpet for the prime minister’s dinner.

Recently-retired swim great Cate Campbell has received a fresh salute at a function for Australia’s Olympic flagbearers.

Campbell, a four-time gold medallist, and eight other Olympic flagbearers were feted at the Prime Minister’s Olympic and Paralympic dinner in  Melbourne on Saturday night.

Campbell missed selection on Australia’s swim team for what would have been a fifth Olympics and the 32-year-old confirmed her retirement midweek.

Cate Campbell attended days after confirming her retirement from the pool. (Con Chronis/AAP PHOTOS)

Campbell mixed with Patty Mills, her joint flagbearer from the Tokyo Olympics, and Raelene Boyle, the track star who carried the flag at the 1976 Montreal Games.

Denise Boyd (athletics, 1980 Moscow), Max Metzker (swimming, 1980 Moscow), Wayne Roycroft (equestrian, 1984 Los Angeles), Jenny Donnet (diving, 1992 Barcelona) and Anna Meares (cycling, 2016 Rio) were other flagbearers in attendance.

Meares is now the chef de mission of Australia’s Olympic team headed to the Paris Olympics starting on July 26.

“I remember holding that flag and walking through the tunnel trying to out-sing Argentina whom we followed into the stadium,” Meares said.

“As we got closer to the stadium entry I took a deep breathe waiting for the cue to walk in. As ‘Australia’ was announced, I remember the noise was so loud I could feel the impact on my body. 

“Leading a nation so well respected on the sporting scene globally and walking in with the most motivated group of people I have ever come across still evokes great emotion in me.”

Anna Meares recalled the powerful emotions felt as an Olympic flagbearer. (Con Chronis/AAP PHOTOS)

A group of 14 Paralympic flagbearers were also honoured, dating back to Paul Croft at the 1988 Seoul Games.

The function with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese comes a day after the government detailed a $283 million investment in sport over the next two years.

The funding, laying the foundation for Brisbane’s 2032 Olympic and Paralympic games, comes on top of an annual $102m in grants to the Australian Sports Commission and high performance programs.

“The prime minister clearly gets what the Olympic sports do for this country,” Australian Olympic Committee president Ian Chesterman said.

“So we thank him his commitment to helping our sports and our athletes.

“Our team will do us proud in Paris and that’s the first stop on the runway to LA28 and then Brisbane 2032.”