Oct 8, 2013, 10:20 AM EDT
Before he attempts Olympic history, Armin Zoeggeler will carry his nation’s flag into the opening ceremony at the Sochi Olympics.
Zoeggeler, who turns 40 on Jan. 4, could become the first Winter Olympian to win six medals in a single event if he can make the luge podium Feb. 9.
Zoeggeler won gold in 2002 and 2006, silver in 1998 and bronze in 1994 and 2010.
“He’s the greatest athlete of all time in his sport,” Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago said, according to The Associated Press. “I’m very pleased with this choice.”
The list of five-time Olympic medalists in one event also includes Zoeggeler’s former rival, Georg Hackl of Germany, who won three golds and two silvers from 1998 through 2002.
Zoeggeler will likely not be favored to take home his sixth medal in Sochi. He reached the podium three times in nine events on the World Cup circuit last year, including a fourth place in Sochi. He skipped the World Championships in February to recover from injuries, which included back and neck problems.
The reigning Olympic, world and World Cup champion Felix Loch of Germany was 4 years old when Zoeggeler won his first Olympic medal.
Zoeggeler was also Italy’s flag bearer at the 2006 Torino Olympics closing ceremony.
The Sochi luge competition begins the night after the opening ceremony.
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