Rower Mohamed Sbihi carried the British flag at Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony today and is the first Muslim to do so.
Sbihi, 33, who won gold in in Rio in 2016 and bronze in London in 2012, told The Independent: “To know I’m the first person of Muslim faith to have this role and duty is a very proud moment. We need more representation and hopefully this starts that process of getting young Muslim kids involved in all types of sport.
“I was in London and Rio to see Mo Farah win his medals as a refugee who came to the country very young and as a practising Muslim. That was inspiring. He was somebody I saw around my university when I was training and it’s amazing to think that I’m the first Muslim to have this honour.”
Sbihi, who is 6ft 8 inches tall, is the son of a Moroccan immigrant father and an English mother and grew up in Surbiton, southwest London.
He studied Sport Science with Health, Nutrition & Exercise at St. Mary’s University College, Twickenham on a sports scholarship from 2006 to 2010.
At the age of 15, he was identified as a potentially successful oarsman by a talent-spotting programme and joined the GB Rowing World Class Start programme. Sbihi finished first in the junior men J15 category at the 2003 Great Britain Indoor Rowing Championships.
He then went onto win a gold medal in the coxless four at 2016 Rio Olympics, and at the 2012 London Olympics he was in the British crew that won the bronze medal in the men’s eight.