A Solihull-born speed skater who began learning at just 18 months has been chosen to carry the flag for Great Britain in the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Jon Eley, aged 29, will be taking part in his third Winter Olympics and is the most experienced member of the British short track speed skating team.

The Olympic gold medallist, who is the younger brother of the Solihull Barons ice hockey team's captain Rob Eley, said he was delighted to be given the honour of carrying the flag for the 56-strong British team.

"To be representing Team GB for my third time is a great honour and being selected as the flagbearer has made it unbelievable," he said.

"Carrying the flag I hope will not only be a very proud moment for my wife, my family and myself, but also my team-mates across Team GB - who have all made a massive contribution to my career - and my sport.

"It is an amazing privilege and a moment that I will treasure for the rest of my life, and I plan to use this opportunity to fuel my ambitions in competition and encourage my team-mates to be their best, ensuring that this is just the start of a very successful Games for myself and the rest of Team GB."

Mr Eley, who began skating at just 18 months, gave short track a try at the age of 12 to improve his ice hockey and was subsequently offered a chance to join the British national short track team.

He made his Winter Olympics debut in Turin in 2006 and in February 2007 became first British short track speed skater to win gold at a World Cup competition when he won the 500m in Heerenveen.

Gold followed in the 2008 Europeans and he finished sixth in the 500m and the relay at the Vancouver Games in 2010.

Team GB chef de mission Mike Hay said: "Jon is an excellent choice to lead Team GB into the opening ceremony in Sochi and we are very proud to have him as our flagbearer.

"Jon understands and embraces the responsibilities that come with being an Olympian and a member of Team GB. He leads through his actions and sets a positive example for our entire delegation. Jon is widely respected by his team-mates across Team GB and he is certainly deserving of this tremendous honour."

The opening ceremony will begin at 4.14pm GMT on Friday February 7, with the athletes' parade taking place between from 4.25pm.

During the parade around 40,000 spectators will welcome a record-breaking 87 nations into the Fisht Olympic Stadium in the Olympic Park.