‘I’ve always maintained I’m an average kid who got lucky’: Team GB rower Mohamed Sbihi insists it’s a ‘huge honour’ to be the first Muslim to carry the Union flag – as he reveals he was inspired by Mo Farah
Mohamed Sbihi has spoken of the ‘huge honour’ of being the first Muslim to carry the Union flag at an Olympic Games.
The Londoner, 33, will lead Team GB along with sailor Hannah Mills at Friday night’s opening ceremony.
And the rower is hoping his presence can inspire a generation of Muslim youngsters to follow his lead.
Mohamed Sbihi spoke of the ‘huge honour’ of being the first Muslim to carry the Union flag
Rower, who won gold in the men’s four in Rio, will lead Team GB along with sailor Hannah Mills at Tokyo Olympics’ opening ceremony on Friday night
‘It’s a huge honour,’ said Sibhi, who won gold in the men’s four in Rio.
‘To know I’m the first person of Muslim faith to have the role, it’s a very proud moment. I’ve always said we want more Muslims representing our country and hopefully this will start that process of getting young Muslim kids involved in all different types of sports – especially rowing.
‘I’ve always maintained I’m an average kid who got lucky and here I am with the honour of being a flag bearer.’
Sbihi added he was inspired by fellow Muslim Mo Farah.
‘I was in London and Rio to see Mo win his gold medals as a refugee, it was an amazing achievement,’ he said.
Sbihi, born in Kingston-upon-Thames to a British mother and Moroccan father, added that he had cleared his presence with his crew members.
Sbihi added he was inspired by fellow Muslim Mo Farah, who has won four Olympic golds
Just 30 Team GB athletes from 376 across just six sports are expected to attend, amid concerns over becoming infected or falling foul of contact-trace rules.
‘I had to briefly run it by my crew,’ he said. ‘I don’t think rowers have walked for a long time. But their reaction summed up mine. I was speechless. I thought I was about to be told off. It was a very serious start to the chat but It’s been incredibly exciting.’
Cardiff-born Mills, 33,will be defending her women’s 470 title alongside Eilidh McIntyre in the Japanese capital. She will become the first female sailor to carry the Union flag.
‘To be asked to carry the flag for Team GB at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games is not a sentence I ever thought I’d say,’ she said.
‘I’ve always maintained I’m an average kid who got lucky,’ Sbihi said after being given honour
‘When Mark (England) told me I had been chosen, it was completely overwhelming and when I had a moment to think about what it meant I got pretty emotional.
‘It is the greatest honour in my career and I hope more than ever before that this Games can lift our country and deliver some incredible sporting moments to inspire the nation.’
In a break with tradition, the International Olympic Committee confirmed in March last year that each nation could nominate one male and one female as flag bearers.
England said: ‘Having spoken personally with Hannah and Moe, it was clear to see what this honour meant to them. Not only what it meant personally, but also for their teammates and wider delegation in what has been the most difficult and unprecedented 18 months for everyone in the United Kingdom.
‘Both athletes embody the Values of Team GB and they are thoroughly deserving of this great honour.
‘Hannah and Moe have already created multiple Olympic memories and I have no doubt they will add to these in Tokyo over the next 16 days.’