Pyeongchang - The
US Olympic Committee defended its method of selecting a Games flag
bearer after speed skater Shani Davis expressed his anger at losing on
the flip of a coin and suggested it was racially motivated.
African-American Davis, the top medal winner among the US team at
Pyeongchang, missed out to luger Erin Hamlin for the prestigious role in
Friday's opening ceremony.
Voting from one US representative from each of the eight winter
sports federations was deadlocked 4-4 between Hamlin - the first US
luge singles medalist - and Davis. In such cases a coin flip settles
Davis, a two-time 1 000m champion, took issue at how he lost out and
noted it came during what in America is "Black History Month".
"I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the first
American to 2-peat in that event. @TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin
to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022.
USOC spokesperson Mark Jones told a press conference: "The Team USA flag
bearer is selected using a detailed selection procedure that is fully
driven by athletes.
"As is always the case, there were many worthy candidates for this
year's honour and we look forward to having four-time Olympian Erin
Hamlin lead our delegation into the opening ceremony of the Olympic
Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018."
Davis, 35, is one of only three five-time Olympians in the US line-up.
He has 1 500m silver from Turin and Vancouver as well as his 1 000m golds.
It's not the first flap involving Davis at an Olympics. He and US
speed skating were at odds over his status for the team pursuit event
debuting at the 2006 Turin Olympics.
US team-mate Chad Hedrick ripped Davis for not taking part, saying it cost the Americans a gold medal. They finished sixth.