Madrid: Tennis ace Rafael Nadal has set his sights on becoming Spain’s flag-bearer at the 2016 Olympics after injury deprived him of the opportunity at the London Games.
The 26-year-old announced last week that he was pulling out of the London Olympics due to injury, meaning he would also miss out on the honour of carrying Spain’s flag at the opening ceremony on Friday.
“It was the most difficult decision which I have taken in my career and possibly the saddest,” he told Spanish public television on Sunday.
“It was a unique opportunity so obviously I am sad. My goal now is to continue to work hard to try to have another chance in Rio in 2016. I hope I will be prepared to compete there and have another opportunity to carry the flag.”
Nadal, the gold-medal winner in Beijing four years ago, said he was pleased with the choice of basketball player Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers as his replacement to carry the Spanish flag.
“I think he is a fabulous representative of Spain. I think Pau is an example for society and for all athletes,” he said.
“There is something special about Pau, I wish him the best and I hope he enjoys the experience a great deal.”
Feliciano Lopez will replace Nadal in the singles while Marc Lopez will step in to partner Marcel Granollers in the doubles.
Nadal, the world number three, won a record seventh French Open title last month but he crashed out in the second round at Wimbledon in a shock upset against Czech Lukas Rosol.