Snowboarder Alex "Chumpy" Pullin has been named flag-bearer for Australia at the opening ceremony for the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Alex 'Chumpy' PullinAge:
Sydney, NSWCareer Highlights:
- FIS Snowboard World Championships 2013 - Gold, Stoneham-et-Tewkesbury
- FIS Snowboard World Championships 2011 - Gold, La Molina
- FIS Snowboard World Cup 2012/13 - ranked first overall
- FIS Snowboard World Cup 2010/11 - ranked first overall
- The two-time snowboard cross world champion showed he could thrive under pressure when he defended his world championship in Stoneham-et-Tewkesbury in 2013.
- He reached the quarter-finals in his Olympics debut and has been the pace setter in the event since the Vancouver Olympics.
- Pullin has been universally known as "Chumpy" since childhood, but there appears no particular reason for the nickname.
Pullin, a two-time snowboard cross world champion competing in his second Olympics, is somewhat of a surprise choice ahead of Lydia Lassila, a four-Games veteran and 2010 Vancouver gold medallist.
He told the ABC he felt humbled to receive the flag from Lassila.
"To be passed that flag by Lydia, who is someone in winter sport who has done so many great achievements and really pushed it forward for the younger generations coming forward; that is something that really needs to be appreciated," he said.
Australian chef de mission Ian Chesterman made the announcement at the team reception in front of athletes, coaches and VIPs including James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch, saying Pullin represents the new generation of Australian Winter Olympians.
Pullin says he is looking forward to leading his team out on Friday (local time).
"It's such a special experience to walk out as an athlete in that opening ceremony. It's just very emotional, it's uplifting," he said.
"You just want to throw your hands in the air and celebrate with your friends and also you feel that there's something ahead of you and it's just a moment around the corner."
Pullin is a favourite to take gold in Sochi but he says it is hard to describe what it feels like walking into the stadium for the first time.
"I have tried to explain it that many times, it's really tricky," he said.
"I will say that it's just fantastic to be in an individual sport and yet feel so united with an Australian team, all there together."
Pullin was the fastest qualifier in his event in the Vancouver Games but crashed out in his first head-to-head race.
He says he is now focused on going for gold and he has arrived fit and in top form.
"That is something that is really special I think as a winter sports person from Australia to come together with the whole team," he said.
"Especially this time everyone is so strong and we have more people than ever and more, I would say medal opportunity but even top 10 opportunities which need to be appreciated too."