Olympics: Andy Murray came close to 'poking out' Princess' eye

Murray warms up during a practice session ahead of the Games on Aug 3, 2016.
Murray warms up during a practice session ahead of the Games on Aug 3, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Andy Murray came perilously close to “poking out the eye” of Britain’s Princess Anne in a botched dress rehearsal for Friday’s Olympic Games opening ceremony where he will carry the country’s flag.

Tennis star Murray, the defending Olympic champion, will lead out the British team in what he describes as one of the proudest moments of his career.

But the 29-year-old admitted that Wednesday night’s (Aug 3) photo-call with the daughter of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, and other members of the team, could have gone a lot better.

“I ended up putting the flag in front of Princess Anne’s face,” said the Wimbledon champion on Thursday.

“The flag is huge and as soon as I tipped it, it was covering someone’s face.

“It has a big, sharp point on top of it and she said something like ‘make sure you don’t poke my eye out’.

“I hope she was OK. I didn’t mean to do it. I was just following instructions. Last night didn’t go well. I’ll have to try and get more practice in before tomorrow.”

World number two Murray discovered he was to be his country’s flag-bearer on Tuesday night as he was about to go to sleep at the athletes village.

It is the second Olympics in a row that a Scot has been Britain’s flag-bearer following cyclist Chris Hoy in London in 2012.

After capturing Olympic gold four years ago, Murray then became the first British man to win a Grand Slam title in 76 years with victory at the US Open.

He has since backed it up with the 2013 and 2016 Wimbledon crowns.

Murray said he heard about the decision to make him Rio flag-bearer at 11:15pm on Tuesday night.

He was in bed and found himself having to get dressed in a hurry to rush downstairs to meet with British chef de mission, Mark England.

“He explained why he thought I’d be a good person to do it. I was speechless,” explained Murray who said that England had made the decision based on his ‘perseverance and spirit’.

“I felt very humble. It’s a big honour to do it. It wasn’t something I was expecting. It’s a big responsibility so I hope now I can perform well over the next 10 days.

“This is something I will remember for the rest of my life. It’s inspiring.” Murray said he is unconcerned about his duties meaning a late night on Friday, the day before the tennis tournament gets underway.

He won’t play is opening singles and doubles until Sunday.

Meanwhile, Hoy tweeted his advice on Thursday, telling his compatriot, ‘don’t forget it has to be single arm and no holster’.

“He’s a big lad. I’m not as strong as he is but I’ll give it a go. I’ll do it with my left hand, it looks a little bit better.”