Andy Murray will be Great Britain's flag bearer for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games. The three-time Grand Slam-winning tennis star, who won a gold medal at London 2012, will lead his fellow Team GB athletes into the Maracana Stadium on Friday night (4 August) after being picked ahead of female boxing trailblazer Nicola Adams.

Although double Wimbledon champion and Davis Cup hero Murray is widely recognised as a worthy candidate given his extensive list of career achievements, his selection is nevertheless slightly surprising given the timing of his event.

The first round of the men's singles tennis competition in Rio begins this weekend and, depending on the outcome of tomorrow's draw, he could begin the defence of his title as soon as Saturday afternoon.

"I am very proud to be selected as the Team GB flag bearer for the opening ceremony on Friday," Murray said in a statement from the British Olympic Association. "To represent your country at the Games is an unbelievable experience, but to lead out Team GB will be an incredible honour, the biggest in sport.

"This is my third Olympic Games and it is a very special competition for me. I obviously have great memories of London and I am 100% focused on winning here in Rio. The privilege of being the flag bearer is a moment I will remember for the rest of my life and will certainly be one of the highlights of my career."

Andy Murray
Andy Murray led Great Britain to its first Davis Cup triumph in 79 years last November Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

After Sir Bradley Wiggins ruled himself out of the running to become flag bearer, Adams was widely considered the front-runner. The 33-year-old fighter made history four years ago as the first female boxer to win an Olympic gold medal with victory over China's Ren Cancan in the women's flyweight final. Since then, Adams has enjoyed further success at both the Commonwealth and European Games, as well as the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships in Astana earlier this year.

Team GB Chef de Mission Mark England added: "When I asked Andy to lead our team out it was received with a humility and grace that is befitting of the values of Team GB. It was an emotional moment for him personally, and for this team."

Veteran long-distance runner Jo Pavey was also thought of as a leading candidate by many as she prepares to embark on her fifth Olympic Games aged 42, while show jumper Nick Skelton, 58, was believed to be under consideration, too.

Decorated cyclist Sir Chris Hoy carried the flag for Team GB at London 2012 and swimmer Mark Foster was given the honour in Beijing after judoka Kate Howey led the way in Athens. Meanwhile, Sir Steve Redgrave did it twice in succession at Barcelona 92 and Atlanta 96 before rowing partner Sir Matthew Pinsent was selected for Sydney 2000.