After Sally Pearson’s withdrawal from sport’s biggest showpiece through injury, Anna was widely tipped to receive the coveted honour.
Anna, 34, has been one of the greatest track riders in history, winning two Olympic and 11 world championship gold medals, as well as five Commonwealth Games titles.
She becomes the seventh female athlete to be named as team flagbearer at an Olympics, following Raelene Boyle (1976), Denise Robertson-Boyd (joint flagbearer in 1980), Jenny Donnet (1992), Alisa Camplin (2006 Winter Games), Torah Bright (2010 Winter Games) and Lauren Jackson (2012).
“I am humbled and want you to know how proud and honoured I am to be the Australian flag bearer and lead our Olympic Team in Rio,” Anna says.
Anna says the honour is even greater given the quality of athletes that were on the Australia Olympic Committee’s radar.
“I know that the other athletes who were in contention are amazing athletes. I would have happily marched behind anyone of those.
“For me personally it was good to see Jamie Dwyer in the mix and for his fourth games.
“For me, it’s such a privilege, such an honour. I’m humbled, a bit emotional, but I’ve got it together, I can talk.”
The flagbearer is traditionally announced just one day before the Olympics opening ceremony, but Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller was keen to break the rules to allow Anna to soak up the excitement.
“This way Anna gets to savour the moment with the Australian public before she heads off to Rio and enjoy the honour for several weeks,” says Kitty.
As for Anna’s number-one goal as flagbearer?
“Don’t drop the flag! That is definitely goal number one,” she laughs.
“This has given me some calm. I was really feeling some pressure around being able to perform and deliver in Rio. I know being awarded this honour means what I’ve done previously, I’ve done it well.
“I’m not going to change, I will keep my processes how they are and conduct how I do and working as hard as I do and it should flow as a result.”
The opening ceremony can be viewed live on Seven from 6am on August 6 (AEST).