Muhammad Al-Subaihi makes history as the first Muslim Olympic flag bearer for the GB team | Tokyo Olympics 2020
Gold-medal-winning rower Mohammed Al-Subaihi will make history on Friday after declaring himself the first Muslim to carry the British flag at the Olympics opening ceremony. He will be joined by another gold medalist, sailor Hannah Mills, campaigner for clean oceans and the elimination of single-use plastics in sport.
This is the first time that two competitors have been able to carry the flag after the International Olympic Committee announced last year that each National Olympic Committee can nominate a woman and one athlete to carry the flag.
Sobhi and Mills follow in the footsteps of some of GB’s most legendary athletes including Andy Murray, rowers Sir Matthew Pinsent and Sir Steve Redgrave, and also Anita Lonsborough, the first woman to carry the flag for the GB . team in Tokyo in 1964.
Al-Subaihi, who was snatched from his Kingston public school through a program that targeted schools outside of traditional public school rowing pool areas, spoke of his pride in his choice.
“It is a great honor,” he said. “It’s a special moment within the Olympic movement – people remember those pictures. I definitely remember pictures of Andy from Rio and even before I was a rower I remember seeing Sir Matt and Sir Steve, so it’s something I’m incredibly proud of.
“It would be a surreal experience actually going to the opening ceremony but this year with the race schedule, it is actually manageable even if I am not a flag bearer. It will be really special and it will complete my Olympic puzzle.”
Al-Subaihi, who was the first ultra-Orthodox Muslim to argue with Britain before winning gold at the Rio Olympics in the men’s four-man competition, added: “I won a medal, I was in the closing ceremony but now I’m really going to show up at the opening ceremony and be at the head of the team along with Hana Sekon A memory I will never forget.”
Mills, who will defend her women’s 470th title alongside Elade McIntyre in Tokyo, said her selection was the greatest moment of her career. To be asked to carry the GB flag at an opening ceremony حفل Olympic Games Not a sentence I thought I’d say. When I was told it was totally overwhelming and when I had a moment to think about what it meant I became so emotional.
“It is the greatest honor of my career and I hope more than ever that these Games can raise the bar for our country and provide some great sporting moments to inspire the nation.”
In 2019, Mills launched the Big Plastic Pledge, which aims to eliminate single-use plastics from sport, while last year she was chosen to be an ambassador for the European Climate Agreement.
“Every beach, marina, and harbor I’ve sailed through is full of plastic,” she said at the time. “This has opened a portal for me to the world of sustainability. I want to use my sporting background, networks and profile to raise awareness, change behavior and influence others on environmental issues.”