10 May 2023

Patty Mills proud to be a flag-bearer

| Cape York Weekly
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“As a proud Kokatha, Naghiralgal and Dauareb-Meriam man it’s incredible. A very passionate moment I can feel in my bones,” Mills said after the announcement that he and Cate Campbell will lead the Aussie team at the opening ceremony.

“It’s about identity, it’s about being proud of who you are, and being passionate about that, so it’s obviously an honour.”

Tokyo will be Mills’ fourth Olympic Games, and the 32-year-old is relishing the responsibility he will undertake as a leader for both the Australian men’s basketball team and the wider Australian Olympic team.

“I don’t think it’s going to be tough at all to balance both, I think the roles complement each other,” Mills said.

“For me, who really gets going off stuff like this, it’s fuel to the fire, it just adds that other burning sensation to go and achieve a gold medal.”

Whilst spending most of his professional career in the United States, Mills has maintained a strong connection with his home country through much of his off-court endeavours.

He has pledged to use his platform as a means of helping struggling Australians find elevated standards of life and progression within their communities.

“The ability to be in a position where I can give back where I can is important and not only to my communities where I’m from and elsewhere as well, so this is special,” Mills said.

As one of the many Olympians inspired by the heroics of Cathy Freeman, Mills will look to the precedent set by the 400m gold medallist to assist his leadership in Tokyo.

“The biggest impact that Cathy had on me is just being true to yourself and being proud of who you are; being passionate about your identity and letting that fuel the fire to achieve those dreams,” he said.

“Along with Cathy Freeman there are a lot of other Indigenous role models who I looked up to in numerous different sports and I think all of that packaged together has impacted me in a really good way where I feel like I’m in a position to be able to be that role model.

“This is a very important position and a leadership position that I feel comfortable in, and this is such an honour and a privilege to lead this team alongside Cate.”

Mills described the opportunity to share flag-bearer duties with Campbell as “unbelievable”.

“I think it’s really unique and really cool, and I’m looking forward to sharing this moment with someone,” Mills said.

“In past experiences, it’s been the lone soldier out the front, so for us to share that moment is going to be very special.

“Following Cate’s career over from the other side of the world, obviously meeting a few times at the Olympic Games and seeing the work that she does outside of the pool is very cool, and something that I keep a close eye on, so very deserving and again I’m really stoked for the opportunity to share this moment with her.”

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