Video captured by D’Artagnan Dias
Video produced by Coleman Hodges
Reported by Loretta Race.
It’s official. 22-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps has been selected as Team USA’s flag bearer for the 2016 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony slated for August 5th. Phelps was chosen by a vote of fellow Team USA members and the decision was announced on NBC’s Today Show this morning.
The most decorated Olympian of all time, Phelps owns 18 Olympic gold medals and looks to add more to his legacy while in Rio. Phelps will be competing in the men’s 200m IM, 100m butterfly and 200m butterfly events, in addition to team relays.
Says the 31-year-old of the flag bearing honors, “I’m honored to be chosen, proud to represent the U.S., and humbled by the significance of carrying the flag and all it stands for.”
“For Sydney, I just wanted to make the team. For Athens, I wanted to win gold for my country. For Beijing, I wanted to do something nobody else had done. In London, I wanted to make history. And now, I want to walk in the Opening Ceremony, take it all in, represent America in the best possible way and make my family proud. This time around, it’s about so much more than medals.”
In the past, Phelps has opted out of walking in the opening ceremony since he’s historically competed in the men’s 400m IM event, which always takes place the very next day. With that event off the legendary swimmer’s schedule this time around, Phelps’ first event would come on Sunday, which gives him an off day in between. That day hosts the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay, of which Phelps may or may not be a part. If not a member of the relay, then Phelps would not dive in to the Olympic Aquatics Stadium pool until Monday, August 8th when he’ll take on the world in the 200m butterfly.
Phelps represents the first swimmer to be named flag bearer since Gary Hall carried the flag at the 1976 Opening Ceremony in Montreal.
U.S OLYMPIC TEAM FLAG BEARERS – OPENING CEREMONY
- 1908 Ralph Rose, Track and Field
- 1912 George Bonhag, Track and Field
- 1920 Patrick McDonald, Track and Field
- 1924 Patrick McDonald, Track and Field
- 1928 Lemuel (Bud) Houser, Track and Field
- 1932 F. Morgan Taylor, Track and Field
- 1936 Alfred Jochim, Gymnastics
- 1948 Ralph Craig, Yachting
- 1952 Norman Armitage, Fencing
- 1956 Norman Armitage, Fencing
Warren Wooford, Equestrian*
- 1960 Rafer Johnson, Track and Field
- 1964 William Parry O’Brien, Track and Field
- 1968 Janice Lee Romary, Fencing
- 1972 Olga Fikotova Connolly, Track and Field
- 1976 Gary Hall, Swimming
- 1980 U.S. did not attend
- 1984 Edward Burke, Track and Field
- 1988 Evelyn Ashford, Track and Field
- 1992 Francie Larrieu Smith, Track and Field
- 1996 Bruce Baumgartner, Wrestling
- 2000 Cliff Meidl, Canoe/Kayak
- 2004 Dawn Staley, Basketball
- 2008 Lopez Lomong, Track and Field
- 2012 Mariel Zagunis, Fencing
- 2016 Michael Phelps, Swimming
*Due to Australia’s immigration laws for horses, the 1956 equestrian events were held in Stockholm, Sweden.
Flag Bearer list courtesy of USA Swimming.