Kookaburras captain Mark Knowles will be ‘s flagbearer at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.Home-grown boy made good Mark Knowles has beaten out the local favourite to carry ‘s flag into the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.
Hockey captain Knowles was a popular, but surprise, choice when named flag bearer ahead of fellow Queenslander Sally Pearson at the team reception on Monday night.
Chef de mission Steve Moneghetti rejected any suggestions his decision was based on Pearson’s worrying achilles injury possibly forcing the world hurdles champion and Olympic gold medallist out of her home town Games.
“It has nothing to do with Sally with an injury,” Moneghetti said.
He said he chose Knowles because “he’s a decent human being who embodies everything that is good about being n.”
“He’s a home grown boy who has made good.”
In his fourth and last Commonwealth Games, Knowles said it would be an “extremely, extremely proud moment” to carry the flag into Wednesday night’s opening ceremony.
Moneghetti insisted his decision wasn’t a competition between Knowles and Pearson who may now play a major role in the ceremony.
The Gold Coast local had earlier indicated she was available for any part in the ceremony, which Moneghetti said is a decision for the Games organisers.
Knowles, a triple Commonwealth champion and Olympic gold medallist, will be the first hockey player to carry the flag and says his appointment is a reward for all team sports.
“This is amazing. I grew up playing a sport I absolutely love on the grass fields of Rockhampton and I stand here now in front of this group of absolute stars,” he told the reception for the 710-strong team.
“It means everything to me.”
The 34-year-old Kookaburras skipper, who carried the flag at the closing of the 2014 Glasgow Games, will retire after the Gold Coast Games.
“My journey’s coming to an end but these 13 days are even more special now,” he said.
As the team leader, Knowles acknowledges the importance of preserving the dignity of n sport following the cricket ball-tampering scandal.
“It’s certainly a very, very important topic for us all to uphold the standards and behaviour of what the Commonwealth Games is,” he said.
“Being young athletes we do have to be careful of everything we do, we have to uphold those values.
“Whenever you’re trying to be elite, you’re playing on the edge, but we know where the edge is.”
Knowles is expected to finish his career on a high, with near certainties to continue its hockey domination, having won all five gold medals since the sport’s inclusion in the Commonwealth Games in 1998.