Multiple World and European medal-winning judoka Euan Burton has been chosen to carry the Scottish Flag and lead Team Scotland into the Opening Ceremony of the XX Commonwealth Games, which takes place at Celtic Park on Wednesday 23 July.
The decision to select Burton as flag bearer was made by his fellow athletes and was announced today (21 July) at the Team reception held at Scotland House, with the flag presented by Scotland’s greatest ever Olympian and double Commonwealth Games gold medallist – Sir Chris Hoy.
Euan was selected from a strong final shortlist of four athletes; Linda Clement (Hockey), Jennifer McIntosh (Shooting) and Alex Marshall (Lawn Bowls), who will walk out immediately behind Euan as deputy flag bearers.
With two Olympics under his belt, Euan is set for his first Commonwealth Games with Judo returning to the programme for the first time since 2002. He was a reserve and training partner for Graeme Randall at the Manchester Games, when Graeme Randall went on to win an iconic Gold for Scotland. Euan has already tasted success in Glasgow, by winning Gold at the 2013 European Open and will be looking to repeat that success at the SECC on 26 July.
A true role model, his love and knowledge of the sport is already being transferred to the next generation of Scottish Judo champions, with Euan taking up a position in the coaching set-up at the National Training Centre at Ratho in Edinburgh. A number of athletes trained by Burton have made the final 14 for the Games, which puts him in a unique position as athlete and coach.
Reflecting on his selection, Euan said: “It’s a massive honour and it’s a big responsibility. We’re often in this relatively isolated judo bubble so for Scottish athletes of all 17 sports to nominate me as flag bearer is huge.
“It doesn’t get more special than this for me because it is a home Games. It’s also at the very end of my career, and I’m now involved in coaching a number of guys in the team, which adds a completely different dynamic. There’s also the fact my wife will be competing for England, and to add being flag bearer on top of that s incredible.
“I remember walking in behind Chris Hoy in London and experiencing that spine tingling moment when we entered the stadium. To think that I’m going to be at the front of Scotland’s largest ever team and hopefully our most successful ever just blows your mind.
“I probably shouldn’t say this, but I’ve been on YouTube a couple of times just to relive the moment Chris walked out in front of us in 2012 to take a few tips from that. I’ll walk out holding the flag with enormous pride and I’m sure the support we will get will be like nothing any of us have ever experienced before.”
Congratulating Euan on his selection, Jon Doig, Team Scotland Chef de Mission, said: “Euan is one of Scotland’s most successful, distinguished and well-respected athletes, and I am delighted that he has been selected by his fellow team members to lead us out at our home Games.
“Euan has been at the top of his sport for a number of years and with Judo making its return to the Games for the first time since 2002, he will have the chance to make his debut for Team Scotland in Glasgow. Judo was our most successful sport at the Manchester Games with ten medals and we are all looking forward to seeing them compete once again. Euan is a tremendous role model and the team will all be proud to follow him into the stadium for the Opening Ceremony.”
Presenting the flag to Euan, Sir Chris Hoy said: “I’ve been a team-mate of Euan’s over the years; he’s a great ambassador for his sport and for Scotland, so it makes complete sense that he’s been voted by his peers to carry the flag into the opening ceremony.
“I don’t think there’s a greater accolade than to be recognised by your peers because these are the guys who do the same thing as you; they know all about the hard work, the commitment, training and lifestyle that you have to adopt to become successful in your sport.
“I remember in London thinking the four years of hard work to get to this point have been worth it just for this. I thought if I win a medal on top of this it will be a bonus and I’m sure Euan will feel the same way. No matter what he thinks it will be like, it will be better. The atmosphere and the response he and the whole team will receive will be like nothing else.”
You can follow Euan on Twitter @Euan_Burton
Photo credit: Jeff Holmes