Phelps Earns Flag Bearer Honors in Final Olympics

(ATR) The most decorated Olympian of all time will lead Team USA into the Maracana Stadium on Aug. 5.

(ATR) The most decorated Olympian of all time Michael Phelps will lead Team USA into the Maracana Stadium on Aug. 5.

The 31-year-old Phelps will be competing in his fifth and final Olympic Games at Rio 2016 and will seek to add to his impressive 18 Olympic gold medals. Phelps will compete in the 100m and 200m butterfly events as well as the 200m individual medley. Team USA is still keeping quiet about the swimmers that will comprise its relay teams but Phelps will likely be included in at least one relay race.

Before Phelps dives in the pool, he will carry the Star-Spangled Banner into the opening ceremony, leading the other 554 athletes from the United States in the parade of nations. Phelps will be the first U.S. swimmer since Gary Hall at the Montreal 1976 Games to lead Team USA at the opening ceremony.

"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."

Phelps will be cheered on during the opening ceremony by the U.S. Presidential delegation that does not include President Barack Obama. The delegation is led by Secretary of State John Kerry, making the Olympic opening ceremony the second international sporting moment in 2016 where President Obama could not attend. The President was not available to speak at Muhammad Ali’s funeral due to scheduling conflicts with his daughter Malia's high school graduation.

Kerry will be joined in Rio by U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Liliana Ayalde, Assistant Secretary of State Mari Aponte, Deputy Assistant to the President Liz Allen, Special Assistant to the President Ellie Schafer and nine-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Mark Spitz.

The Presidential delegation will attend some of the athletics events in the days following the opening ceremony and will meet with several U.S. athletes while in Rio.

Michael Phelps will also be the headliner of the Team USA Swimming press conference in Rio de Janeiro taking place at 1:30 pm BRT in the Main Press Center.

Written by Kevin Nutley

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