An emotional David Nyika says he will never get over the moment he carried the New Zealand flag into the Tokyo Olympic Stadium during the Olympic opening ceremony.
The Kiwi boxer was given the honour in the 11th hour, taking the place of rower Hamish Bond, who decided to relieve himself of the role after his race with the men's eight was moved forward from Sunday to today due to poor weather being forecast.
"I wasn't expecting to be in that position at all," Nyika said today.
"I had never pictured myself getting that opportunity, I didn’t even bring a belt with me - I had to borrow a team doctor’s belt to walk out.
"I took it in my stride and decided I would carry all the pride of New Zealand and all the mana into the stadium. I know I’m no more deserving than any other athlete here."
Nyika led the New Zealand team out alongside rugby sevens star Sarah Hirini, and said he tried to remain in the moment.
"I didn’t cry in the stadium but I think I cried four or five times after Rob told me. I’m pretty drained, it was an emotional day," he said.
The emotion came swarming back as he described just what it meant to him to have that honour, tears welling in his eyes during the press conference.
"I don’t think it gets much bigger and much better than this in terms of how connected I felt to our people, my people," Nyika said.
"I’m of European and African descent but I’m so incredibly proud to be a Kiwi, to be honoured by carrying the flag in, I’m not going to get over that."
Nyika is scheduled for his first bout in the heavyweight round-of-16 on Tuesday.