Australia’s flag bearer history - Jane Saville remembers Melbourne 2006
One of the greatest honours as a member of any Commonwealth Games teams is to be asked to carry the Australian flag and lead the team into the stadium at the opening ceremony. This prestigious honour has been bestowed on an extraordinary athlete at every Games since the very first in 1930 in Hamilton Canada.
Ahead of the announced of the Australia flag bearer for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games on Monday evening, we spoke to NSW’s only athletics flag bearer, Jane Saville who was bestowed the honour in Melbourne in 2006.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe such a huge honour would be bestowed on me,” recalled Saville. “It was like a fairy tale. As an athlete, you focus on performing in the competition and really don’t think about those things. It’s like a cherry on top and to have the honour to carry it in your home Commonwealth Games was an incredible experience.”
As we will do in 2018, Saville was informed of the honour at a presentation at the Melbourne Town Hall where most of the Australian Commonwealth Games team were present.
Adding to the honour was the location - steeped in the history of Australian sport.
“Would you believe, it was only the second time I had been to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the first was to prepare for the parade and with oath reader Adam Pine (swimmer). It was incredible, to walk out carrying the flag at the Holy Grail of Australian Sport, the MCG (and that’s coming from a New South Welshwoman) into a full Australian crowd cheering loudly! I remember thinking don’t slip down the ramp (we had to walk down a long ramp) and being nervous about walking too slow that the team would overtake me. I was also happy because my sister Nat, was in the team and marching in the parade.”
At the Games, Saville went on to defend her 20km walk title, her third consecutive gold at her fourth Games.
Despite the occasion being over 48 years ago, Pam Ryan could recall every detail of the honour.
“My memory is clear and has stayed with me over the many years since the Games in Edinburgh in 1970.”
The honour roll of Australian’s who have carried the Australian flag at the opening ceremony:
1930 Henry ‘Bobby’ Pearce – rowing
1934 Noel Ryan – swimming
1938 Edgar ‘Dunc’ Gray – cycling
1950 Mervyn Wood – rowing
1954 Richard Garrard – wrestling
1958 Ivan Lund – fencing
1962 Tony Madigan – boxing
1966 David Dickson – swimming
1970 Pam Kilborn/Ryan – athletics
1974 Michael Wenden – swimming
1978 Remo and Salvatore Sansonetti – cycling
1982 Rick Mitchell – athletics
1986 Michael Turtur – cycling
1990 Lisa Currey-Kenny – swimming
1994 Ian Hale - shooting
1998 Kieren Perkins – swimming
2002 Damian Brown – weightlifting
2006 Jane Saville – athletics
2010 Sharelle McMahon – netball
2014 Anna Meares - cycling
David Tarbotton for Athletics NSW
Image: Jane Saville in 2006