In a pandemic-free world, many around the globe would have had their eyes fixed on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics right now. But coronavirus forced the organizers to postpone the grand event to 2021 - which in turn prompted the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) to create an inspirational video with several of their former flag-bearers sharing their Olympic experiences. One among them was World No. 2 tennis player Rafael Nadal, who spoke about his experience of being the flab-bearer for Spain at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
My personal experience at the Olympic Games has always been incredible: Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal was initially supposed to carry the Spanish flag for the London 2012 Olympic Games. But an injury ruled him out of the event, and he was replaced by decorated basketball player Pau Gasol.
Nadal’s chance came soon, at the very next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The 19-time Grand Slam champion remembers the moment very fondly, and called it 'unforgettable'.
“My personal experience at the Olympic Games has always been incredible and, obviously, being a flag bearer in Rio is an unforgettable moment," Nadal said. "I was extremely excited and it was an incredible experience.”
Rafael Nadal also managed to make his nation proud by winning the men’s doubles gold medal in that year. Nadal partnered with compatriot Marc Lopez to beat Romanian duo Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau in the final with a scoreline of 6-2 3-6 6-4.
Nadal, however, fell short in the singles department as he was beaten by Kei Nishikori in the bronze medal match. Going back to his experience of holding his nation’s flag at the opening ceremony, Nadal seemed to be brimming with delight as he described all that he felt during that prestigious moment:
“The fact of being able to share that moment with all my teammates, the selection, with the entire Spanish delegation is difficult to describe. The energy that one feels when he goes out there in the middle of any opening ceremony of the Games is indescribable.”
Rafael Nadal will be looking to win his third Olympic medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, should the event go ahead. The legendary Spaniard displayed his trademark humility by expressing hope that the future flag-bearers of Spain feel the same emotions as he did in 2016:
“Imagine the fact that you came out first representing your country. Having had that opportunity, I enjoyed it to the fullest. I hope that the next ones that come can enjoy it just the same.”Published 27 Jul 2020, 00:36 IST