Representing your country at the Olympics is an honor and dream come true for every qualifying Olympian from every country. Being named as the flag bearer for your country is an even higher honor, for you are the leader of your country as they march out behind you in the opening ceremony.
For medal winning Olympian Shani Davis, the honor runs deep, which is why the process for how it was decided affected him so deeply.
With the voting tied 4-4 between luger Erin Hamlin and Davis, the tie breaker would be decided by a coin flip, which landed in favor of Hamlin. When notified of the decision, Davis was not happy at all.
Shani Davis on Twitter
I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the first American to 2-peat in that event. @TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022. #BlackHistoryMonth2018 #PyeongChang2018
Hamlin’s resume definitely makes her worthy of being the flag bearer. She’s a four-time Olympian, which includes a bronze medal from the 2014 Sochi Games, a two-time world champion and is the winner of 23 World Cup Medals. When notified of the decision, Hamlin showed both excitement and nerves.
“The nerves will be flying, for sure,” said Hamlin. “I slide. That’s what I do. Put me at the top of the track, that’s my happy place. Walking out in front of a lot of people and even more watching from home, hoping to not trip over my own feet or drop the flag is going to be way more nerve-wracking.”
But Davis is equally deserving, holding an even more impressive Olympic resume. After qualifying for this year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, he is now a five-time Olympian with two gold medals and two silver medals.
With the position of flag bearer being such an enormous honor, it’s a shame that it had to come down to a coin flip. Let’s hope the team, and organizers, find some way for both athletes to equally, and rightfully, share the honor of representing their country on the main stage. And if that doesn’t happen, let’s hope they both bring home the gold.