Ibrahim Al-Hussein revealed as flag bearer for IPA Team

The swimmer, who lost his leg in a bombing in Syria, will be the first athlete to enter the Maracana Stadium at the Opening Ceremony. 07 Sep 2016
Ibrahim Al Hussein

Ibrahim Al Hussein, IPA Team

ⒸUNHCR/Yorgos Kyvernitis

Ibrahim Al-Hussein admits he is trying to “comprehend what is going on” after being chosen as the flag bearer for the International Paralympic Athletes (IPA) Team for the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony on Wednesday (7 September).

The IPA Team will be the first to enter the Maracana Stadium, meaning Al-Hussein – who lost his leg in a bombing in Syria – will be the first athlete into the arena.

“It’s really a nice feeling to be told that I would be the one who was chosen to carry the flag at the Opening Ceremony,” he said.

“I would like to thank all the officials of the team that helped me to be on the team and have the honour of carrying the flag.

“I am trying to comprehend what is going on. For me, 2016 has been too good to be true. I was in the Olympic Torch Relay and then I was told I would be here at the Paralympic Games.

“Now I have been told I will be the flag bearer, so it is too much for me to comprehend. It is a dream and I wish that nobody wakes me up. It is of course an honour and it is something historic. I am over the moon.”

After being reclassified, Al-Hussein will now compete in the 50m freestyle S9 and 100m freestyle S9.

“It is going to be a very tough competition,” he said. “Everyone that made it to Rio de Janeiro is a champion. The one who will be concentrating enough and able to control his nerves in the minutes before the race will be the winner.

“I will do my best to reach as far as possible, but it will be a very tough competition.”

A number of other nations have also revealed the identity of their flag bearers.

Lee Pearson CBE, a 10-time Paralympic gold medal winner, will carry the flag for Great Britain, while cyclist Allison Jones has been selected to lead the US team.

London 2012 long jump gold medallist Markus Rehm is the German flag bearer, David Eng will do the honours for Canada, and women’s javelin F46 world No. 1 Holly Robinson will lead out New Zealand.