Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, has been selected as the U.S. flag bearer at the Rio Olympics by a vote of other Team USA members, the U.S. Olympic committee announced Wednesday.
“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 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.”
Competing in every Olympics since 2000, Phelps has earned a record 22 medals, 18 of which are gold. Phelps set another record at the Beijing 2008 games, earning 8 gold medals in a single Olympics, though he is only set to compete in three individual events at Rio.
“As swimmers, we don’t really think that we have this opportunity,” Phelps said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show after the announcement. “But I guess the opportunity that I have is a dream come true and one that I will remember for the rest of my life.”