It’s usually hard to choose the flag bearer for a nation’s Olympic Team. The flag bearer represents not only the other athletes at the games, but the nation itself. This year, however, the U.S. didn’t have to struggle so much with the decision. Beginning way back in 2000, when he became the youngest American male Olympian since 1932, swimmer Michael Phelps has been helping make this year’s decision easy.
Choosing Michael Phelps, in other words, was a no-brainer — despite the vast talent and bounty of legitimate candidates among this year’s medal hopefuls. Phelps has won a record 22 Olympic medals including 18 golds — and he’s still swimming. This flag bearer business is probably just a warm-up anyway, for some day in the distant future when at a US-hosted Olympics Phelps is chosen to light the Olympic flame. On being chosen as the flag bearer for Rio, Phelps — the first swimmer since Gary Hall (1976) to be chosen — said:
“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. I want to walk in the Opening Ceremony, take it all in, represent America in the best possible way and make my family proud.”
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— Olympic Flame (@OlympicFlame) August 3, 2016