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Tough job to choose Olympic flag bearer
Paul Mulvey
17:45 AEST Tue Jun 26 2012
Who should carry the Australian flag at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games?

With a month to go before the Olympic opening ceremony, choosing Australia's flag bearer is proving more difficult than new chef de mission Nick Green thought.

Green admits he originally believed the task would be straightforward but, as more athletes are named, more candidates enter calculations.

Cyclist Stuart O'Grady was this week selected for his sixth Games and is shaping as a favourite to lead the Australian team into the London Olympic stadium on July 27.

He'd follow rower James Tomkins in 2008 and sailor Colin Beashel in 2004 who both carried the flag at their sixth Olympics.

One factor working against O'Grady, 38, is that he competes in the 250km road race the following day, but he's indicated he's willing to leave the draining three-hour opening ceremony early and take the short walk back to the athletes village.

"I thought it would be easy, but it's going to be one of my toughest jobs," Green said.

If Olympic credentials are the main criteria, O'Grady's one gold medal, a silver and two bronze put him ahead of fellow cyclist and Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, who has not won a medal from his previous three Games.

But Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) president John Coates has said he'd be happy if Green breaks with tradition and awards the honour to an internationally-renowned athlete like Evans, especially if he successfully defends his Tour title.

"I'd be very relaxed about breaking from tradition if Cadel Evans won his second Tour de France," Coates told the ABC.

Gold medallists in 1996, shooters Russell Mark and Michael Diamond, are both also going to their sixth Games.

Record breakers and potential history makers would also be worthy flag bearers.

Equestrian Andrew Hoy is setting an Australian record of seven Olympics, but carried the flag at his fourth Games, in Atlanta in 1996, so is unlikely to have the honour again.

Beach volleyballer and Sydney 2000 gold medallist Natalie Cook will become the only Australian woman to compete at five Olympics, while rower Drew Ginn could be the first Australian to win four gold medals from four Games.

Hockey captain Jamie Dwyer is only going to his third Olympics, but, as a gold medallist and five-time world player of the year, is considered a chance.

Triple gold medal-winning swimmer Leisel Jones is also going to her fourth Games.

The AOC on Tuesday formally selected 43 of the 55 athletes nominated by Athletics Australia, while the relay teams await the July 7 qualifying deadline.

The men's and women's 4x100m and men's 4x400m relay teams currently qualify by ranking in the world's top 16, but are sweating on international results over the next fortnight before their places in London are assured.

Several individual athletes could also still qualify before July 7.

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Archery
Athletics
Badminton
Basketball
Beach Volleyball
Boxing
BMX
Cycling
Diving
Equestrian
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Football
Gymnastics
Handball
Hockey
Judo
Modern Pentathlon
Rowing/Canoe/Kayak
Sailing
Shooting
Swimming
Synchro
Table Tennis
Taekwondo
Tennis
Triathlon
Volleyball
Water Polo
Weightlifting
Wrestling
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