Rafael Nadal told Spanish television that pulling out of the London 2012 Olympics was possibly the saddest decision of his life.
Nadal struck gold in the men's singles in Beijing and the Spaniard was desperate to defend his title in London. And despite a shock second round defeat at Wimbledon last month, Nadal would still have been quietly confident of success having claimed two Wimbledon titles so far in his career.
However despite being named as the Spanish flag-bearer at the opening ceremony a couple of weeks ago, Nadal has been unable to overcome lingering tendonitis in his knees in time and he's had to withdraw.
"It was the most difficult decision which I have taken in my career and possibly the saddest," he told Spanish television on Sunday night. "It was a unique opportunity so obviously I am sad. My goal now ips to continue to work hard to try to have another chance in Rio in 2016. I hope I will be prepared to compete there and have another opportunity to carry the flag."
Nadal has been replaced as flag-bearer by basketball player Pau Gasol who competes for the Los Angeles Lakers and Nadal was as gracious as ever in his endorsement of Gasol. "I think he is a fabulous representative of Spain. I think Pau is an example for society and for all athletes," he said. "There is something special about Pau, I wish him the best and I hope he enjoys the experience a great deal."