LONDON -- Wheelchair rugby player Garett Hickling will carry the flag for Canada at the Paralympic opening ceremonies in London.

The 41-year-old from Kelowna, B.C., is a five-time Paralympian and three-time Paralympic medallist.

Hickling has competed in every Paralympics that wheelchair rugby has been included in since 1996. He won silver at the 2004 Games in Athens and bronze at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

"I'm very, very surprised," said Hickling in a statement Sunday. "This wasn't something I had even thought of or considered. I'm just ecstatic being able to play in the Paralympics, and to be able to do something like this is just phenomenal. I don't know if I'm still in a daze or a dream. I probably will be smiling ear to ear and just try to hold that flag up high and represent Canada as best I can."

Hickling was tournament MVP at the first three world championships held in the sport and is considering the leader of Canada's wheelchair rugby squad at the London Games.

"Garett exemplifies all these qualities and more," said Chef de Mission Gaetan Tardif. "He is one of the most feared athletes in the sport, yet also exceptionally humble. He is respected by athletes throughout Canada and the world."

Canada's wheelchair rugby team will open its tournament on Sept. 5 against Australia.

Canada has a total of 145 athletes competing in 15 sports at the London Paralympic Games.

The opening ceremony is Wednesday.