The 37-year-old triathlete was named Thursday to lead the 277 athletes on the Canadian team into London's Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony on July 27.
The Canadian Olympic Committee made the announcement on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, with chef de mission Mark Tewksbury and assistant chef de mission Sylvie Bernier delivering the news simultaneously to the assembled crowd.
Whitfield called it "overwhelming" to receive the news in an earlier phone call from Tewksbury.
"Once I got over the shock of how cool it was that Mark called, my thoughts turned to all of the incredibly talented Canadian athletes on this team," Whitfield said in a releases from the COC. "It’s an honour to have the opportunity to carry our flag while representing the sport of triathlon, but more importantly it’s a privilege to be the one who will lead this amazing team of Canadian athletes who have dedicated their lives to achieving their Olympic dream and represent our nation on the world’s greatest sporting stage."
Whitfield, who was born in Kingston, Ont., and now lives in Victoria, will compete in his fourth Olympics. In 2000, he won the first-ever men’s triathlon gold medal in Sydney, and in 2008 he staged a memorable finishing kick to take silver in Beijing. He’s considered a contender for a third Olympic medal in London.
During his career, Whitfield has won 14 World Cup races and finished in the top 10 at the world championships seven times. He's captured 10 Canadian titles and a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2002.
In a CBCSports.ca tournament to decide the Canadian public’s choice for flag-bearer, Whitfield lost to mountain biker Catharine Pendrel in the final round of voting.