Shot put great Dame Valerie Adams has been handed the honour of flagbearer for the NZ team at the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday.
Last Sunday, the 36-year-old took bronze in the women's shot put, adding to the gold medals she won at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, and her silver from Rio 2016.
"It's an incredible honour to be named as the New Zealand flag bearer for tonight's closing ceremony,” says Dame Valerie.
"To represent our team and Aotearoa tonight as we close these Games together means a lot to me and my family. One day when my children Kimoana and Kepaleli understand what their Mum does I hope they will be just as proud of this significant moment too.
"It's fair to say Tokyo 2020 will go down in history, the success of these Games is an absolute testament to the people of Japan who enabled us to safely come together and inspire and unite the world. Arigato gozaimasu."
While Dame Valerie has remained non-committal on her future in the sport, it's expected Tokyo will be her Olympics swansong, although she hasn't ruled out an appearance at Paris 2024.
Black Ferns Sevens star Sarah Hirini and boxer David Nyika carried the flags for New Zealand at the opening ceremony, with Nyika a late replacement for rower Hamish Bond, who chose to withdraw to prepare for competition.
New Zealand Team Chef de Mission Rob Waddell paid tribute to Dame Valerie, who has joined an elite handful of Kiwis to have competes at five Olympic Games.
"We asked Dame Valerie to carry the NZ flag and lead our team at the closing ceremony, as she perfectly represents the values and culture of the NZ Team," says Waddell.
"Dame Valerie is an incredible athlete who has represented New Zealand to an extremely high standard for around 20 years.
"She's a fantastic leader of this team and I’m looking forward to watching her carry our flag for the first time at the Olympic Games."
Dame Valerie will follow in the footsteps of other Closing Ceremony flagbearers including Lisa Carrington (Rio), Mahé Drysdale (London) and Caroline and Georgina Evers Swindell (Beijing).
Adams was flagbearer for New Zealand at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.