RIO DE JANEIRO – Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, was selected as Team USA’s flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games, the United States Olympic Committee announced today. The Opening Ceremony will be held Aug. 5 at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Phelps, who is the first American male swimmer to qualify for a fifth Olympic Games, was chosen by a vote of fellow Team USA members.
Phelps made history at the Beijing Games in 2008 when he won gold medals in eight events and added to his legacy in 2012 when he became the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 career medals, including 18 golds. Set to compete in three individual events in Rio, Phelps, will look to add to his historic Olympic medal haul in 2016.
“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. “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.”
Making his Olympic debut at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Phelps became the youngest male Olympian since 1932, and his eight gold medals from the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games is an Olympic record.
Phelps is only the second swimmer to lead the U.S. delegation into the Opening Ceremony and the fifth swimmer to serve as flag bearer for Team USA at the Olympic Games. Four-time Olympic medalist Gary Hall previously carried the flag into the Opening Ceremony of the 1976 Olympic Games in Montréal.
The 2016 Olympic Games will take place from Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro, marking the first Olympic Games to be held in South America.
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.