Warner named Team Canada’s Closing Ceremony flag bearer for Tokyo 2020

After earning the title of World’s Greatest Athlete, Damian Warner has a new title: Team Canada Flag Bearer.

The decathlete, who won gold while breaking the 9000-point barrier for the first time, was revealed as Team Canada’s Closing Ceremony flag bearer on the final day of Tokyo 2020.

Warner is the first track and field athlete to be given the honour since high jumper Greg Joy at Montreal 1976.

“Being named the flag bearer for this group of Team Canada athletes is a tremendous honour and an amazing way to cap what has been an unbelievable few days for me,” said Warner. “What each of us has gone through over the past 18 months to even get to these Games is what makes Tokyo 2020 all the more special.”

Damian Warner gives two thumbs up after winning decathlon
Canadian Damian Warner celebrates after winning gold in the Men’s Decathlon during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Thursday, August 05, 2021. Photo by Mark Blinch/COC

READ: Warner makes history as Canada’s first Olympic decathlon champion

Warner’s performance in Tokyo was one for the record books – literally. He smashed the previous Olympic record with his score of 9018 points. He became the first Canadian decathlete to surpass the 9000-point mark, something only three men had done before him. But he was the first to do it in Olympic competition.

His performance is even more remarkable after remembering that he spent most of the winter training in a makeshift setup for his 10 different running, jumping, and throwing events in an old, unheated hockey arena in his hometown of London, Ontario – a far cry from the intensive, focused training camps he was used to for major competition preparation.

Damian Warner races over the 110-metre hurdles in the decathlon.
Canadian Damian Warner competes in the Men’s Decathlon 110m Hurdles heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Thursday, August 05, 2021. Photo by Darren Calabrese/COC

READ: Living the dream: Damian Warner, Olympic decathlon champion

At one point he confessed to his coach his doubts about whether an Olympic gold was in his future. Warner is a prime example of the resilience Canadian athletes have shown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, rising to the occasion while the world was watching them compete on the biggest stage in sports.   

“Though I compete alone, I’ve never felt more support, not only from my coach, Gar, but from my community and everyone back home cheering us on. As a team we had our respective challenges training through the pandemic and that collective experience will always be a part of our story. It is a journey that we can all be incredibly proud of,” said Warner.

Tokyo 2020 marked Warner’s third Olympic appearance. He debuted at London 2012 with a fifth-place finish before stepping onto the podium with a bronze at Rio 2016. He is the only Canadian combined events athlete to win multiple Olympic medals.

Damian Warner smiles on the podium wearing his gold medal
Canadian Damian Warner receives his gold medal after winning the Decathlon event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Friday, August 06, 2021. Photo by Stephen Hosier/COC

“What motivates me is, it’s just really special to be able to go up there and to stand on the podium and hear the Canadian national anthem,” said Warner.

“It’s one of those things where this is a dream come true for me. When I was working with my coaches when I first started the decathlon, it was to come to the Olympics and to win the gold medal. To be able to share this moment with my coaches, with Canada, with all of them, there’s no greater joy than that.”