Black Ferns Sevens Captain Sarah Hirini and two-time Olympic champion rower Hamish Bond have been named New Zealand’s flag bearers for the Tokyo Olympics.
The pair were formally announced as Nga Pou Hapai [flag bearers] by Chef de Mission Rob Waddell at a team function tonight in Auckland.
It will be the first time a male and female athlete have jointly carried the New Zealand flag at an Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, thanks to a change in Games rules allowing for the naming of both a male and a female flagbearer.
Hirini said she grew up in awe of New Zealand’s Olympians and previous flag bearers.
“This means so much to me and my family,” said Hirini.
“Being able to carry the flag and represent the women’s sevens team and the wider New Zealand Team at the Opening Ceremony is going to be such a huge honour. I can’t wait to represent my country at these Games.”
Hirini said she was honoured to be carrying the flag with Bond.
"I've watched him for a number of years be so successful in rowing. To be able to then be alongside him as a team mate is really massive."
Bond said he’ll be extremely proud to carry the flag alongside Hirini.
“If you look back on the people who have been our flagbearers over the years it’s a pretty amazing bunch of athletes so to be bestowed this opportunity is really special to me,” said Bond.
“Our flagbearers have represented us with distinction, pride and respect in the past and I’m really honoured to be adding my name to that list.”
Bond was present at tonight’s function in Auckland to be named the flag bearer and was presented with Te Māhutonga, the New Zealand team’s kākahu [cloak] by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy and Waddell in front of Olympic teammates, friends and whanau.
Hirini on the other hand was given a private ceremony earlier this week before the Black Ferns Sevens departed for their build-up in Australia.
Waddell said the pair were chosen as they exemplify the values and culture of the New Zealand Team.
“Sarah and Hamish are outstanding athletes and are leaders off the field of play,” said Waddell.
“These athletes are role models and bring a huge amount of mana to our team. I’m extremely proud to be naming them as flag bearers."
Hirini heads to the Games with an already impressive resume, including two world championships in 2013 and 2018, a 2016 Olympic silver medal, a 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal and six World Series titles.
Bond's career is just as impressive with Tokyo being his fourth Olympic Games.
Alongside Eric Murray, Bond dominated the men's pair for years and won back-to-back Olympic gold medals in London and in Rio de Janeiro.
After a two-year cylcing stint, which included an impressive Commonwealth Games bronze in 2018, Bond has returned to rowing and heads to Tokyo as part of the men's eight.
Sir Peter Snell was the New Zealand team flagbearer the last time New Zealand competed at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, in 1964.