BEIJING — Donovan Tildesley from Vancouver, will carry the Canadian team flag at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games on Saturday.

Tildesley will lead the Canadian Paralympic team of 143 athletes into the Beijing National Stadium, nicknamed the Bird’s Nest, for the 2008 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony on September 6.

“I had no idea this was coming.

When my name was announced it was like an electric shock shooting through my body, I could hardly believe that I – this kid with a visual impairment from Vancouver – would be given such an honour,” said multiple-Paralympic medallist Tildesley. “I’m touched that my team decided to nominate me for this position.”

One of Canada’s best Paralympic long-distance swimmers, Tildesley holds the world record in the men’s 800m and 1500m freestyle in the S11 category.

The 24-year-old athlete from Vancouver, BC is visually impaired and races in the S11 category for totally blind swimmers.

At the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, he earned a silver medal in both the 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley, and a bronze medal in the 100m freestyle. At the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, he won the bronze in the 200m individual medley.

Tildesley said he wants to have the “most fun of all” in Beijing as he plans to retire after these Paralympic Games – which makes it even more special to have been named flagbearer.

Tildesley competes in his first race on day three of the Games in the 100m fly.