Swimmer Michael Phelps has been chosen as Team USA’s flag bearer for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced on Wednesday.
Phelps won the vote by other members of the U.S. Olympic team.
“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.”
Previous U.S. flag bearers have included Cliff Meidl (canoe/kayak, 2000), Dawn Staley (basketball, 2004), Lopez Lomong (track and field, 2008) and Mariel Zagunis (fencing, 2012).
Phelps will be competing in his fifth Games, becoming the first American male swimmer to qualify for five Olympics. He set an Olympic record in 2008 by winning eight gold medals in Beijing, and his 22 medals and 18 golds are the most won by any athlete in Olympic history.
He will compete in the 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly and 200-meter individual medley along with the team relay at this year’s Olympics, which are scheduled to begin on Friday.