The Deaflympics 2009 opening ceremony took place today, with Andrea Hardwick leading the Great Britain team.
Andrea, 42, a member of the badminton team, gained the honour at her sixth Deaflympic games, having first represented Britain as a 14 year-old swimmer in 1981.
After representing Britain again in the pool in 1985, Hardwick made the switch to badminton for the 1989
Deaflympics and won gold in the Women’s Doubles, along with silver medals in the Mixed Doubles and Team events.
Hardwick has continued to be a key member of the badminton team, appearing at further Deaflympics in 1993, 2001 and 2009.
Speaking ahead of the 21st Summer Deaflympics Opening Ceremony, which starts from 1930 local time (1230 BST), Hardwick admitted it was an emotional moment to hear she had been chosen.
“I’m filled with pride. I can remember back to when I was the baby of the team in Cologne in 1981 and now here I am, 28 years later, about to carry the flag.”
A further honour was bestowed upon the team when Rajeev Bagga, who is bidding to win his sixth straight individual
gold medal in Badminton at these Games, was among the final athletes to carry the torch in front of a capacity crowd at the Taipei Stadium.
The ‘Deaflympian of the Century’, who is bidding to win his sixth straight individual gold medal in Badminton at these Games, was the final athlete to carry the torch in front of a capacity crowd at the Taipei Stadium.
A visually stunning opening ceremony featured an ‘earth and sea’ theme and involved hundreds of performers in a hypnotic display of mass movement and co-ordination.
Team Great Britain walked into the Taipei Stadium in Taiwan having been boosted by the performances of their
footballers, whose events have started.
In their opening match, the Men’s team beat Japan 2-1, with goals from Chris Beech and Jamie Clarke.
The women’s team also beat Japan, winning comfortably 6-1 in a match that saw two hat-tricks for the team, with Danielle Evans and Camilla Willis scoring three goals apiece in a great start to the games.