Michael Phelps selected as U.S. flag bearer for Rio Olympics
(CNN) — Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, has been selected as the U.S. flag bearer for the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympic Games by a vote of fellow Team USA members.
The U.S. Olympic Committee made the announcement Wednesday morning.
“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,” Phelps said in a statement.
“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.”
Phelps, who made his Olympic debut in 2000, has a record 22 Olympic medals, including 18 gold. In 2008 in Beijing, Phelps made history when he won eight gold medals, an Olympic record. He will swim in three individual events in Rio. He’s the first American male swimmer to qualify for a fifth Olympic Games.
Phelps is the second swimmer to lead the U.S. delegation into the opening ceremony and the fifth swimmer to be the flag bearer for Team USA at the Olympic Games. Four-time Olympic medalist Gary Hall carried the flag into the opening ceremony of the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.
“As swimmers, we don’t really think that we have this opportunity,” Phelps said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show following the announcement. “But I guess the opportunity that I have is a dream come true and one that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
The opening ceremony will be Friday at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.