For the first time in New Zealand history, two athletes have been named co-captains of the New Zealand Olympic Team, at a ceremony at the Athletes’ Village in Rio de Janeiro this evening.

Olympic silver medallists and four-time world champion sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke were each presented with a traditional kakahu (cloak) by the New Zealand Olympic Team Chef de Mission Rob Waddell together with His Excellency the Rt. Hon. Lt. Gen. Sir Jerry Mateparae.

As co-captains, the duo will provide leadership to the wider New Zealand Olympic Team and both will have the honour of leading the team in the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony on 5th August.

Burling, as a three-time Olympian and helmsman, will carry the New Zealand flag as the official flagbearer.

The duo were celebrated by around 150 New Zealand athletes and a bateria (samba drumming group) from Rio de Janeiro’s Mangueira community and said they were honoured to be named co-captains.

“We are so incredibly proud to be leading the team together and to be honoured as a crew,” said Burling.

“We would not have had the success we have had without each other and we know this is the case for many of us in the New Zealand Olympic Team.”

Tuke said he hoped their experience as a team would enable them to add value to others performances.

“We are just so proud and, by sharing our experiences gained as a team, we hope we can inspire incredible performances here in Rio.”

Chef de Mission Rob Waddell said he was proud to have named the two sailors to a joint leadership role.

“I’d like to offer both Pete and Blair my warmest congratulations,” said Waddell from the team’s residence in the Olympic Village.

“The joint appointment is a step away from Olympic tradition but it acknowledges the importance of teamwork at the Olympic Games.

“Pete and Blair have delivered exceptional performances as a crew over the past four years and have epitomised the values and culture of the New Zealand Olympic Team.

"Their focus on achievement is without compromise, but as proud New Zealanders and Olympic Ambassadors they also take the time to share their inspiring stories with youngsters. We know they will inspire through achievement and performance.”

Sir Jerry, who is spending four days in Rio supporting the New Zealand Olympic Team as one of his final duties as Governor General of New Zealand, said “New Zealand sportspeople are renowned for their determination, commitment and high performance on the world stage.

"Equally importantly, New Zealanders are known for upholding the values of friendship and respect both in and out of competition. Pete and Blair are no exception and I will join the New Zealand Olympic Team and the rest of New Zealand supporting them as they inspire pride and excellence in all of us during the Rio Olympic Games.”

“I congratulate Pete on being selected to the special appointment with the New Zealand team, as our national standard bearer for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the opportunity to wear the korowai "Te Mahutonga".

The event at which Burling and Tuke were named is a crucial team function plays a role in building the strong unique New Zealand Olympic Team environment.

“Bringing athletes together is a key part of our Olympic preparation,” said Waddell.

“We build a strong and secure team to have a positive impact on performance. It’s a time to relax for a moment, but also reflect on who we are and what we are here to do.”

The New Zealand Olympic Team, represented by around 60 members of the team, will march into Maracana Stadium tomorrow night.

The flagbearer is chosen by the New Zealand Olympic Team Chef de Mission taking into account a wide range of factors including past performances, ability to lead and inspire New Zealand athletes, competition preparation and performance standards.

Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games Peter Burling Blair Tuke Sailing
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