Olympic Flag Practice At HMS Collingwood

Service personnel from all three armed forces have been undergoing rigorous training and inspections as they prepare for flag-bearing duties at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A total of 176 personnel will be taking on the role at the 100-team welcome and 805 victory ceremonies.

They are undergoing a refresher course in basic drill routines as well as being trained in the art of ceremonial flag raising at HMS Collingwood in Fareham.

The flag-bearers are also being given regular dress inspections to ensure they are turned out in their ceremonial day uniforms to the highest standard.

Lieutenant Commander Jon Glass, who is heading the training team, 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.

''The professionalism of our armed forces will be showcased in front of an international audience who will witness both the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.''

Seb Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), said: ''The flag-raising duties at Olympic and Paralympic Games are seen as an honour but we are in fact honoured to have these inspirational men and women be part of London 2012.''

The service personnel taking part have been chosen because they have a sporting connection or have excelled on operations or in community initiatives.

Able Seaman Olusoji Fasuba won a bronze medal himself in the Athens Olympics 2004 in the 4x100m relay for his home country of Nigeria.

The 27-year-old, currently serving at HMS Drake, Plymouth, Devon, said it was an honour to return to the Olympics under a different role.

The current African 100m record-holder, who is also a member of the navy's bobsleigh team, said: ''It's great, not everyone has the opportunity to compete as an athlete and then return as a flag-raiser.

''I'm on a break from my athletic career at the moment but I am sure this will inspire me to go back.''

Flight Lieutenant Rachael Cadman, who was RAF Sportswoman of the Year 2011, said she was selected because of her sporting achievements which include completing the Enduroman Arch 2 Arc triathlon which involved a run of 87 miles from Marble Arch to Dover, swimming 34 miles across the English Channel and then cycling from Calais to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

The 31-year-old finished the challenge in four days and one hour, becoming only the eighth person ever, and the first woman, to complete the event.

In her current role as training and development officer for the Air Cadets, she also acts as a sporting ambassador to schools.

Fl Lt Cadman, who is originally from the west of Scotland but who is based at RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire, said: ''It's fantastic, really exciting to be involved as a flag-bearer.

''It will be great to go back to the schools and say I was a part of this and speak of the determination that you need to achieve at that level.

''I am passionate about the importance of sport but it doesn't have to be top athletic ability, anything to get children moving and trying to get people as healthy as possible.''

She said there were parallels between the dedication shown by the athletes and members of the Armed Forces.

She added: ''It really is dedication - whatever we are doing we are asked to achieve it to the best of our ability in the same way that Olympic athletes are trying to achieve their goals.''

Corporal of Horse Tim Puddifoot, of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, is based at Hyde Park Barracks and he is normally involved in the changing of the guard at Horse Guards Parade.

But during the Olympics he will be tasked with flag-bearing for the beach volleyball which will be taking place at the parade ground.

The 29-year-old, from Southam, Warwickshire, said: ''It's a massive privilege, something I am really, really glad to be a part of.

''It's going to be really different with thousands of people there and millions of people watching where normally I am changing the guard and instead I'll be changing the flags of the volleyball.''

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