Tennis star Rafael Nadal was scheduled to be Spain's official flag barrier in the London 2012 Olympics but has dropped out on the games. (Photo : Reuters)
Olympic tennis champion Rafael Nadal will not be defending his title at next week London 2012 Olympics, as the Spanish athlete withdrew his participation due to an injury.
Details on the injury have not been confirmed, but it does follow after he canceled a charity tennis match in Madrid against Serbia's Novak Djokovic on July 4 because of tendon problems in his left knee.
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"I am not in condition to compete in the London Olympics and therefore will not travel as planned with the Spanish delegation to take part in the games," said Nadal.
Nadal was originally selected to be Spain's flag bearer for the July 27 opening ceremony. The 11-time Grand Slam champion stated that the opportunity to carry the Spanish flag is a "true honor" and would've been a moving moment for his career.
Nadal would have joined fellow tennis athletes Maria Sharapova and Djokovic, both flag bearers for Russia and Serbia, respectively.
The tennis pro added, "I have to think about my companions, I can't be selfish and I have to think of what's best for Spanish sport, especially tennis and Spanish players, and give fellow sportsmen with better preparation the chance to compete. I tried to hurry my preparations and training to the very last minute, but it was not to be."
He noted it was a difficult decision to make, and, "is one of the saddest days of my career as one of my biggest ambitions, that of being Spain's flag bearer in the opening ceremony of the games in London, cannot be."
Spain's tennis federation (RFET) president Jose Luis Escanuela has said, "It's the worst news we could have. Rafa has always been an example of perseverance and tenacity, which makes it hard to miss out because surely would have loved to return to the Games. I hope he recovers quickly."
Nadal won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics defeating Chile's Fernando Gonzalez in the men's singles final. Recently, Nadal has not played since losing to 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol in the second round of Wimbledon, which is considered as one of the most surprising results in the tournament's history.
No word yet on who'll Spain will select as their new flag bearer or the effects for the Olympic tennis tournament. Nadal hopes to return for the US Open, which begins August 27.