Sunday, March 12, 2006

Saville flagged for Top Honour

Saville flagged for top honour
By Kelvin Healey
From: Sunday Herald Sun

Saville ... "This could provide closure," said Steve Moneghetti of Saville. Picture: Nathan Edwards
COMMONWEALTH Games champions want race walker Jane Saville, who won the sympathy of the nation when she was disqualified minutes from Olympic gold in Sydney in 2000, to carry the Australian flag at Wednesday's Opening Ceremony.
Saville is competing in her fourth Commonwealth Games and vying for a third consecutive gold medal.
The Australian Games team chef de mission John Devitt will decide the flag bearer within the next 24 hours and the name will be announced late tomorrow.
Victorian shooters Kim Frazer and Bruce Quick, swim team stalwart Adam Pine and cyclist Kathy Watt are also in line for the role.
Athletes village mayor Steve Moneghetti said Saville deserved to lead the Australian team into the MCG on Wednesday.
"She would be a good choice. She has been such a good contributor, she has had injuries and disappointments," he said. "She is well known after what happened in Sydney and this could help provide closure.
"We haven't had a track and field flag bearer for a time."
Track great Cathy Freeman added: "I agree with Mona. I'm very proud of Jane, I'm proud to say that I know her.
"I'm just very proud of her because I know that she would go out there and give it her best shot."
Saville is training in Sydney and does not plan to arrive in Melbourne until Thursday, but she said she would gladly come to Melbourne earlier if she was chosen to carry the flag.
"Gosh, you wouldn't pass up an opportunity like that," Saville said.
"It would be pretty cool, but I think there are a lot of athletes who would be picked ahead of me. "It would be a buzz."
Moneghetti said the flag bearer should be a team player who had the respect of other athletes and who had achieved at Commonwealth level.
"It is important we recognise it is a very significant role," Moneghetti said.
The last track athlete chosen as flag bearer was Rick Mitchell, in Brisbane in 1982.
In Manchester four years ago, weightlifter Damian Brown was given the honour, while swimmer Kieran Perkins was chosen in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 and shooter Ian Hale in 1994.
Despite lower profiles, shooters Frazer and Quick will be considered.
Frazer, 46, has won gold at each of the past three Games and Melbourne will be her swansong.
Quick, of Shepparton, has won 11 Games medals since first competing in Canada in 1994.
The swimming team is backing Pine, the first Australian swimmer to make four Games appearances and a five-time medallist.
And comeback cyclist Watt has a formidable Games record, including four gold medals, a silver and a bronze, in three previous Games.
Ian Thorpe was the likely flag bearer before illness forced him out of the Games.
Melbourne's other hopes, runner Tamsyn Lewis, hurdler Kyle Vander Kuyp and shooter Russell Mark, are outside chances.

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