The most decorated Olympian in history is now America’s literal standard-bearer.
The U.S. Olympic Committee announced Wednesday morning that swimmer Michael Phelps will Team USA’s flag-bearer for Friday’s opening ceremony in Rio.
“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 U.S. Olympic Committee press release. “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 is the first swimmer to serve as Team USA’s flag bearer since Gary Hall received the honor for the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
The Rio Olympics will be Phelps’ fifth games. With 22 career medals, including 18 golds, from four Olympics so far, the swimmer is the most decorated Olympian from any country, ever. At the 2008 Beijing games, Phelps won an Olympic-record eight gold medals.
Phelps is entered in three individual events (the 100 meter butterfly, the 200 meter butterfly and the 200 meter individual medley) for the 2016 games.