‘I have always maintained that I am an average kid who has been lucky’: Team GB rower Mohamed Sbihi considers it a ‘huge honour’ to be the first Muslim to carry the Union flag – as he reveals that he was inspired by Mo Farah
Mohamed Sbihi has spoken of the “huge honor” of being the first Muslim to carry the Union flag at an Olympic Games.
The Londoner, 33, will lead Team GB with Sailor Hannah Mills at the opening ceremony on Friday night.
And the rower hopes his presence can inspire a generation of Muslim youth to follow suit.
Mohamed Sbihi spoke of the ‘huge honour’ of being the first Muslim to bear the Union flag
Rower, who won gold in the men’s four in Rio, will lead Team GB with sailor Hannah Mills at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Tokyo on Friday night.
“It’s a huge honor,” said Sibhi, who won gold in the men’s four in Rio.
“To know that I am the first Muslim believer to have the role is a very proud moment. I’ve always said we want more Muslims to represent our country and hopefully this will start the process of getting young Muslim kids involved in all different kinds of sports – especially rowing.
“I’ve always maintained that I’m just an average boy who got lucky and here I stand with the honor of being a flag bearer.”
Sbihi added that he was inspired by fellow Muslim Mo Farah.
“I was in London and Rio to watch Mo win his gold medals as a refugee, it was a great achievement,” he said.
Born in Kingston-upon-Thames to a British mother and Moroccan father, Sbihi added that he had declared his presence with his crew members.
Sbihi added that he was inspired by fellow Muslim Mo Farah, who has won four Olympic gold medals
Just 30 Team GB athletes out of 376 in just six sports are expected amid concerns over contamination or violation of contact tracing rules.
“I just had to run it through my crew,” he said. “I think rowers haven’t run in a long time. But their response summed up mine. I was speechless. I thought I was about to be told. It was a very serious start to the chat, but it was incredibly exciting.”
Cardiff-born Mills, 33, will defend her 470 women’s title alongside Eilidh McIntyre in the Japanese capital. She becomes the first female sailor to carry the Union flag.
“Being asked to carry the flag for Team GB at the opening ceremony of the Olympics is not a sentence I ever thought I would say,” she said.
“I’ve always maintained that I’m an average kid who got lucky,” Sbihi said after being given the honor
“When Mark (England) told me I had been chosen it was absolutely overwhelming and when I had a moment to think about what it meant I got quite emotional.
“It is the greatest honor of my career and I hope more than ever that these Games can elevate our country and deliver incredible sporting moments to inspire the nation.”
In a break with tradition, the International Olympic Committee confirmed in March last year that each country could designate one man and one woman as flag bearers.
England said: ‘After talking to Hannah and Moe personally, it was clear what this honor meant to them. Not just what it meant personally, but for their teammates and wider delegation in what was the most difficult and unprecedented 18 months for anyone in the UK.
“Both athletes embody the values of Team GB and they deserve this great honor.
“Hannah and Moe have already created several Olympic memories and I have no doubt they will add to that over the next 16 days in Tokyo.”