WHEN Able Seaman Olusoji Fasuba raises the winners’ flags at the Olympics he will know exactly what it feels like for those on the podium.
Before joining the Royal Navy, AS Fasuba, 27, won bronze at the 2004 Athens games as part of the Nigerian 4x100m team.
This time around he will be one of 176 servicemen and women from the navy, army and air force chosen to carry out the flag-raising ceremonies at the London Olympics’ 805 medal ceremonies.
And they have been busy practising ceremonial flag raising to make sure everything goes smoothly at HMS Collingwood, the navy’s training base in Fareham.
AS Fasuba, who still holds the African record for the 100m, said: ‘My father was in the Nigerian navy, and I always wanted to be in the navy as well. When my running career came to an end, I decided to follow that dream, and as a Commonwealth citizen, joined the British navy.
‘I feel very lucky to have been picked for this honour – I never thought I would get to watch the Olympics from this point of view as well.’
Members of the armed forces were invited to apply for the chance to take part in the ceremonies, and the winners were selected by committee.
Royal Marine Warrant Officer John Hiscock was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for his actions in Iraq in 2003. The 44-year-old said: ‘I’m a massive fan of the Olympics anyway. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been chosen, and also to represent the service, particularly the Royal Marines at such an event is an incredible honour.
‘If I got to raise the flag for a British medallist that would just make me so proud.’
Members of the team are also undergoing rigorous dress inspections to ensure they will be turned out in their ceremonial day uniforms to the highest standard. As well as the medal ceremonies, they will be responsible for flag bearing during more than 100 ceremonies welcoming each country’s team.
Leading the training is Lieutenant Commander Jon Glass. He said: ‘Flags are a major part of naval tradition. It is an honour to be responsible for the training of the military flag raisers for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.’