There will be 330 Manitoba athletes competing at the Canada Summer Games, but there will only be one athlete carrying the provincial flag at the opening ceremony.

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This article was published 19/7/2017 (1433 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There will be 330 Manitoba athletes competing at the Canada Summer Games, but there will only be one athlete carrying the provincial flag at the opening ceremony.

Rower Emma Gray has been chosen as the province’s flag-bearer July 28 at Bell MTS Place, Team Manitoba announced at a press conference Wednesday at the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

The 19-year-old athlete has only been rowing for two years, but already has a long list of accomplishments.

In her first year of competition, Gray represented Manitoba at the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games, where she won a gold medal and a bronze. In 2016, she won the junior single and under-23 single categories at the national championships, breaking records in the 2-kilometre and 6K races. She also represented Canada at the 2016 junior world championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where she finished ninth in the women’s double sculls event.

"I’ve only been rowing for two years, so I never really thought of myself as a well-known name in Manitoba. I just focus on my own performance. I can’t put it into words what it feels like to represent so many remarkable young athletes and hold the flag for my whole province," said Gray.

Team Manitoba’s chef de mission, Barry Moroz, said it was a difficult decision choosing the athlete to carry the flag. There’s no set criteria, but he said they look for someone with name recognition in their sport who has potential and is a good person. Manitoba sports organizations are able to nominate athletes from their respective sport, and it’s up to Moroz and his staff to narrow it down to one.

"What can I say, she’s an incredible athlete. To come into a sport and be identified as someone that can go the limit to the Olympics says it all. Beyond sport and what she’s done in sport in such a short period of time, she’s a great, quality person, a great leader and someone our entire team can feed off of because of her motivation, her work ethic and her drive to succeed," said Moroz.

Gray had the option to represent Canada at the under 23 world rowing championship in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, that begins this week, but she chose to skip the event to focus on the Canada Games.

"This is a rare opportunity, not only for her, but our athletes. It only happens once every 20 years that Manitoba hosts the Canada Games. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our athletes to compete at home for the Canada Games, so that probably factored into her decision. She will be at worlds next year, no question about it," said Moroz.

There will be a lot of eyes on Gray to see how she performs at the Games. Despite that, Gray doesn’t feel any added pressure and will use the role as an opportunity to help lead her teammates, she said.

"As a flag-bearer, as someone representing the whole province, all I can do is win in poise, lose in poise and whatever happens on that day, I just want to be a good representative of what the province has and what we believe in sports, and that’s all I can really do," said Gray.

The Canada Summer Games start July 29 and run until Aug. 12. Winnipeg, Gimli and Kenora are the host sites for the Games, with the rowing competition taking place at the Kenora Rowing Club from July 31 to Aug. 4. The Gimli Yacht Club is the venue for sailing, with all other events taking place in and around Winnipeg.

taylor.allen@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.

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