Michael Phelps, who has never walked in an Olympic Opening Ceremony before, will carry the U.S. flag at the 2016 Rio Opening Ceremony on Friday, August 5. He was selected as the flag bearer by a vote of fellow Team USA members.
Phelps, set to compete in his fifth Olympic Games, is the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals, 18 of which are gold.
Recently, Phelps was voted one of the six captains for the U.S. swim team, another honor he holds for the first time at the 2016 Games.
“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 through a U.S. Olympic Committee 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.”
As the flag bearer, Phelps will sport a special illuminated USA blazer created by Polo Ralph Lauren.
Sabre fencer and two-time Olympic gold medalist Mariel Zagunis carried the flag at the 2012 Opening Ceremony in London.