Israel's Alexei Bychenko reacts after the men's free skating competition of the European Figure Skating Championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic on January 28, 2017. Israel's Alexei Bychenko reacts after the men's free skating competition of the European Figure Skating Championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic on January 28, 2017. Israel's Alexei Bychenko reacts after the men's free skating competition of the European Figure Skating Championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic on January 28, 2017. (Photo: Joe Klamar / AFP/Getty Images)

Figure skater chosen to be Israeli flag bearer at Winter Games

Alexey Bychenko got the nod on his 30th birthday.

The wait is over.

From The Grapevine has learned exclusively this morning that figure skater Alexey Bychenko will carry the flag for the Israel delegation during the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. It seems he performed so well at the 2017 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, that Israel qualified for not one, but two men's spots at the Olympics. "He is the main reason the Israeli team qualified for the Winter Games in Korea," Yona T. Berkovitz of Israel's National Olympic Committee told From The Grapevine.

PHOTOS: Israel at the Winter Olympics

The news couldn't have come at a better time for Bychenko, who is celebrating his 30th birthday today. “It is an honor to compete for Israel," he told us. "I’m really proud of that,” he said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEh3ov2P3BY

This is Bychenko's second Olympic appearance. He represented Israel at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Though it ultimately depends on his health and fitness, Pyeongchang is likely to be Bychenko’s last Olympics as an athlete. “Four years is a long time, and there are a lot of really good young skaters coming up. They’re the new generation. But I might be at the next one as a coach,” he told us.

Bychenko is one of 10 athletes who will be competing for Israel at the Olympics in Pyeongchang. Watch Bychenko carry the flag this Friday night as the opening ceremonies air at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.

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Figure skater chosen to be Israeli flag bearer at Winter Games
Alexey Bychenko got the nod on his 30th birthday.