Ross Edgar will lead Scotland into the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi for Sunday’s opening ceremony to the Commonwealth Games, having been elected flag bearer by his teammates on Friday.
The track cyclist was one of the stars of Team Scotland in 2006 in Melbourne, where he became the first Scot ever to win the full set of medals – gold, silver and bronze – in a single games. Edgar followed that in 2008 with an Olympic silver medal in the keirin, and he arrived in Delhi having won the British keirin title a week ago.
The 27-year old touched down in Delhi on Friday to be told that he’d been elected flag bearer. He said he was both thrilled and surprised: “I never imagined I’d be the flag bearer.
“I never saw myself as someone who’d be chosen to do it,” Edgar continued. “But it means more because it’s been voted for by my fellow athletes, so I’m really proud and I feel that I’ve done my family proud. They’ll be really happy for me.”
Having for so long competed in the same teams as Sir Chris Hoy and Craig MacLean, Edgar said he was ready to take on the responsibility of leadership. “It feels a bit strange with Chris and Craig not being here, and I remember Craig did an amazing job as flag-bearer in Manchester,” said Edgar, recalling the Highlander’s exuberant performance in 2002.
“If I do half the job he did I’ll have done it well,” Edgar added. “Maybe I’ll get some tips from him. But I’m determined to enjoy it because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime honour.
“I do feel that I’m the leader of the team,” he continued. “I used to look up to Chris and Craig and I’m aware that I’m in that position now and that some of theyounger athletes will be looking up to me.
“I think the best way to lead is by example. It wasn’t something that Chris, Craig and I used to talk about, but they were confident and professional in how they went about things, and I try to do the same.
“You gain confidence from your personal performances, too, like I did at the Olympics and in Melbourne. My silver in Beijing and the three medals at the last Commonwealth Games are things that give you inner confidence and the knowledge that you can go out there and win medals.”
Edgar will ride the keirin and individual sprint in Delhi, having opted to let the younger members of the team contest the three-man team sprint. “I’m on standby for it, but it gives the younger guys an opportunity to race at the highest level, and an insight into what it’s like,” he explained. “There’s some young talent coming through, and this is a good opportunity for them to get experience for the Glasgow Games.
“I’m confident I can get a medal here,” added Edgar. “It’s a world class field with riders like Shane Perkins [of Australia] and [Malaysian Azizulhasni] Awang, so a medal here would make it all worthwhile. I’ll be really disappointed if I don’t get a medal, and I’m hoping, obviously, for gold.”
Sir Chris Hoy added his congratulations: “It’s great to see him getting some recognition for his achievements and I know his dad [David Edgar, who comes from Kilwinning in Ayrshire] in particular will be bursting with pride when Ross leads the team out.”
Congratulating Ross on his selection, Michael Cavanagh, Chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland, said: “Ross is an outstanding athlete, who has quietly worked away for so long, in the shadow of Chris Hoy. I am delighted that today he has been recognised by his fellow team members as the true world class competitor we know him to be.
“He is the first Scottish athlete to have won a full set of medals at a single Games, which is truly exceptional. Ross has arrived today fresh from winning the British Championship in Manchester last week in the Keirin which we hope is a good omen for Delhi.”
Minister for Public Health and Sport, Shona Robison, said: “It is a great pleasure to share in this special moment with Ross Edgar.”
“To compete in your national colours is achievement enough but to be selected by your fellow athletes to carry the flag in a Commonwealth Opening Ceremony is a great honour.
“Our athletes are ambassadors for all of Scotland on the international sport scene. They are a source of pride for all of us and a source of inspiration for up and coming athletes who dream of following in their footsteps.
“I would like once again to commend the positive attitude of Team Scotland, who have dealt extremely well in what have been very challenging circumstances. On behalf of all of Scotland I wish our athletes the best of luck and I look forward to cheering them on from the stands.”
The event also marked the official opening of Scotland House at Le Meridien Hotel in Delhi which will be the focal point for all things Scottish over the next two weeks, as the Glasgow 2014 partners build up to the handover of the Commonwealth Games Federation flag as the host city for the 2014 Games.