"I've actually never seen it" - Ciara Peelo relives leading Ireland out at the Beijing Olympics

Sailor was the Irish flag-bearer at the 2008 Games

Ciara Peelo, flagbearer

Ciara Peelo leads out the Irish team carrying the Tricolour ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

On August 5th, Belfast boxer Paddy Barnes will have the honour of carrying the Irish flag into Rio's iconic Maracana Stadium.

You could call it a high profile task especially when you factor in that only 4 billion souls will be watching globally. Only 4 billion, sure!

At Beijing 2008, the honour of carrying the Irish flag in the Parade of Nations went to Ciara Peelo.

"I had come home from competition in Germany and the manager of the sailing team, James O'Callaghan, had asked me to meet him in the Olympic Council of Ireland offices to have a debrief on the events I was into but that wasn't actually the reason he was asking me to be there," Peelo told Newstalk Sport as she recalled the circumstances which led to her appointment as flag-bearer.

"So they brought me out to the Olympic Council of Ireland offices and James was there and the Olympic Council staff were there and Dermot [Henihan], the Chef de Mission for the Beijing Olympics was there as well and they asked if I'd be willing to carry the flag at the Opening Ceremony and I didn't have to think long to say yes. 'I'd be delighted to.'"

It's a delight and exciting for sure. But one would assume there is a slight sense of nervousness as well given that billions are watching.

Sailor Ciara Peelo who has been nominated to hold the Irish flag at the Opening Ceremony of the Beijng Olympic Games ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

"Well, it wasn't in my mind space until the day before when one of the journalists at the press conference asked me about it. But that was the first time I thought about the actual number of people that would be watching. But during the parade itself, you're just caught up in the atmosphere in the stadium so you're not thinking about TV cameras or anything like that. It was just trying to embrace the moment and enjoy it all with the team behind me."

Peelo has never actually watched the Opening Ceremony bar a very short clip of herself in the Parade of Nations and only witnessed a small part of the events at the time.

"We didn't get to see any of it," she says of the ceremony prior to the Parade of Nations.

"And I've actually never seen it. I've seen the little clip of myself walk out but I've never seen the whole Opening Ceremony. I have a DVD. They gave us a DVD of it but I've never watched it."

The task was straight-forward from there, walking behind a local lady who carried the sign holding 'Ireland'.

"She kind of set the pace and she knew what she was doing and we just stayed behind her and then once we finished the lap of the stadium, there was another organiser there who brought the whole team to the where we were to congregate for the remainder of the ceremony. So I didn't have to do any thinking in that regard. I just followed so it was very easy."  

And as Paddy Barnes takes on the role, she is more than confident that he'll be right into the spirit of the occasion in Rio.