Five Female Gymnasts Flag Bearers at Opening Ceremonies
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Five female gymnasts will march out front on Friday night as as their nations' flag bearers at the 2016 Olympic Opening Ceremonies in Rio de Janeiro. Pictured: Giulia Steingruber (Switzerland) with coach Zoltan Jordanov during podium training on Thursday

Five female gymnasts will march out front on Friday night as as their nations' flag bearers at the 2016 Olympic Opening Ceremonies in Rio de Janeiro.

Artistic gymnasts Ana Sofía Gómez (Guatemala), Catalina Ponor (Romania), and Giulia Steingruber (Switzerland), rhythmic gymnast Neta Rivkin (Israel) and trampolinist Rosie MacLennan (Canada) were selected as standard bearers as the 2016 Olympic Games kick off in Rio.

It is a record number for gymnastics to have five flag bearers at the Olympic Parade of Nations. Gymnasts often skip the Opening Ceremonies as qualification begins on the first day, and hours of queuing and marching in the summer heat is not ideal right before competition. However, the weather in Rio de Janeiro, where it is winter, has been mild.

Steingruber is the first female to carry the Swiss cross in the Opening Ceremonies since 1988, when long-distance runner Cornelia Bürki carried the flag in Seoul. A Swiss tennis player carried the flag the past three summer Olympics, with Stan Wawrinka honored with the role in 2012 following megastar Roger Federer in 2004 and 2008.

"It is for me a great honor and a great joy to be able to bring out the Swiss delegation," said Steingruber, the 2013 Swiss Sports Personality of the Year. "This will give me more energy for my upcoming competitions."

Previous gymnasts honored by the Swiss include 1950 world all-around champion Walter Lehmann, who led the delegation in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, and Daniel Giubellini, who brought the Swiss into Barcelona in 1992.

Gómez and Ponor are the first gymnasts selected for the honor for their respective nations, although Sandra Izbașa carried the Romanian flag at the Closing Ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London, as did Rivkin and Venezuela's Jessica López and Cypriot rhythmic gymnast Chrystalleni Trikomiti.

"Above all I feel proud," said Gómez, an all-around finalist at the 2012 Olympic Games. "I feel very proud to be a Guatemalan woman and to able to carry the national flag in the Olympic Games. Guatemalan gymnastics will be well represented."

MacLennan, the reigning Olympic champion in trampoline, is the first trampolinist given the honor in the Opening Ceremonies, and the first Canadian gymnast to carry the flag. Her compatriot Karen Cockburn carried Canada's flag in the Closing Ceremonies at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Artistic gymnast Jossimar Calvo had been selected as the flag bearer for Colombia, but he was forced to decline the honor due to his competition schedule on Saturday. He was replaced by judoka Yuri Alvear.

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