SOCHI, February 5 (R-Sport) - Two-time Olympic bobsled medalist Alexander Zubkov has been given the honor of carrying the Russian flag at Friday's opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Games for the host nation.
Zubkov, 39, is competing at his fifth Olympics and will lead out the Russian team in front of President Vladimir Putin and at least 44 other world leaders at the Fisht Olympic Stadium on the Black Sea.
"I'm very satisfied and overjoyed that I've been entrusted with such an honorable mission," Zubkov told R-Sport. "It's great to realize that the country is behind me. And I'll do everything possible to help our team put in a worthy performance at the Games."
Zubkov's crew won the bronze medal in the four-man bob in Vancouver four years ago and the bronze medal in the two-man event at Turin 2006 - events both won by Germany's Andre Lange.
He won a two-man gold at the world championships in Konigssee in 2011 and has five other world medals dating back to Calgary 2005.
The Russian finished second in this season's four-man World Cup standings behind Sochi gold medal favorite Steve Holcomb of the United States.
Tennis star Maria Sharapova was the flagbearer for the Summer Games in London in 2012, with hockey player Alexei Morozov getting the honor at the last Winter edition in 2010.
Among the other contenders widely tipped to carry the flag in Sochi were former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeny Plushenko, the Turin Olympic figure skating gold medalist, and luge veteran Albert Demchenko, among others.
The last time an Olympics was on Russian soil, wrestling gold medalist Nikolay Balboshin carried the Soviet flag at the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow.