Page to carry closing ceremony flag

By Paul Mulvey, NZ Newswire Updated August 11, 2012, 11:47 pm

Malcolm Page and his sport of sailing have carried Australia throughout the Olympics and so it's only fitting he'll carry the flag as well.

Gold medallist Page will lead the Australian team out at Sunday night's closing ceremony as flag bearer after defending his Olympic title in the 470 dinghy class.

The only Australian to keep his Olympic crown at the London Games, he and new partner Mathew Belcher helped put Australia on top of the sailing medal table with at least three gold medals as other sports failed to deliver.

"He's a great leader and a great role model," Australia's team boss Nick Green told reporters in London on Saturday morning.

"Mal was in tough company because you look at the likes of Anna Meares and what she's done, Alicia Coutts with the amount of medals that Alicia won as well.

"And the sport of sailing has continued to deliver and I'm pleased to also help recognise sailing for its contribution to the Games."

Green said Page's values of Olympism helped give him the edge over Meares, who won track cycling's individual sprint, while Coutts won a gold, three silver and a bronze in the pool.

While Page is flying high, defending champions Steve Hooker and Matthew Mitcham have given up their Olympic titles.

Like Hooker, Mitcham's title defence came crashing down on Saturday as he failed to reach the 10m platform diving final after an injury-plagued buildup.

Mitcham scored 482.40 points in Saturday morning's semi-finals to finish in 13th and miss out on the 12 spots on offer for the final.

Hooker failed to clear a height in the pole vault final on Friday night, following a year wracked with injury and mental demons.

But by keeping the title he won in Beijing with former crewmate Nathan Wilmot, Page became Australia's most successful Olympic sailor on Friday with two gold medals.

The 40-year-old triple Olympian from Sydney also acknowledged his flag carrying honour was a just recognition for sailing's role in propping up Australia's position on the medals table.

"I look forward to not only representing Australia but also representing the sport of sailing which has done so well here at the London Olympics," Page said.

"I really insist on the whole team being right behind me and showing me how to fly that spinnaker, so to speak.

"I have had so many great moments in sport, especially the last couple of days, but this is something that is really quite overwhelming.

"When you consider some of the great performances across the team here in London, not just by the sailors but by people like Sally (Pearson) and Anna, this is something I will really treasure."

Despite his final flop, Hooker maintains he's recovering from his injuries and crisis of confidence.

"I gave it as good a crack as I could ... it just didn't quite happen, but it was close," he said.

The 30-year-old said he would continue jumping for the rest of the year to seek vindication for the work he's put in to get back on the runway.

Meanwhile, Jared Tallent took silver in the 50km walk on Saturday, repeating his Beijing Games result.

World champion BMXer Sam Willoughby won silver on Friday, while compatriot Caroline Buchanan said her fifth place in the women's final was a "nightmare".

Early on Saturday, with one day's competition to follow, Australia was ninth on the medals table with seven gold, 15 silver and 10 bronze.

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