The world’s greatest female gymnast, Simone Biles, will lead Team USA during the Closing Ceremonies as the flag bearer after being chosen by fellow American teammates, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced Saturday morning.
Biles, 19, entrenched herself as one of the best ever in the sport and potentially the greatest American gymnast of all time after winning four gold medals and one bronze at the Rio Olympics.
Winning four gold medals at a single Olympic Games had only been accomplished by three other women. She was the first American to do so.
“It’s an incredible honor to be selected as the flag bearer by my Team USA teammates,” Biles said in a statement. “This experience has been the dream of a lifetime for me and my team and I consider it a privilege to represent my country, the United States Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics by carrying our flag. I also wish to thank the city of Rio de Janeiro, and the entire country of Brazil, for hosting an incredible Games.”
The Spring, Texas, resident won gold in team competition, individual all-around, vault and floor exercise and bronze in the balance beam. Her soaring performances left viewers spellbound and teammates gushing over her.
“I’m in awe watching her, and I’ve trained with her for so long,” teammate Aly Raisman said of Biles after winning silver in the floor exercise.
Biles has had an eventful last week of the Olympics, meeting her celebrity crush Zac Efron and posing for a Sports Illustrated cover photo shoot with fellow Olympic stars Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky. Both Phelps and Ledecky have already returned to the United States.
Sunday will be the first time a female gymnast has served as Team USA’s flag bearer in either the Opening or Closing Ceremonies. Only one other gymnast has had the honor: Al Jochim, a two-time silver medalist at the 1932 Olympics, was chosen to be the flag bearer at the Opening Ceremonies of the 1936 Olympics.
Here are the previous Closing Ceremonies flag bearers for Team USA:
1952: Bob Kurland, Basketball
1956: Pete Rademacher, Boxing
1960: Mike Troy, Swimming
1964: Don Schollander, Swimming
1968: Al Oerter, Track and Field
1972: Mike Burton, Swimming
1976: Willie Davenport, Track and Field
1984: Jeff Blatnick Wresting
1988: Terry Schroeder, Water Polo
1992: Peter Westbrook, Fencing
1996: Michael Matz, Equestrian
2000: Rulon Gardner, Wrestling
2004: Mia Hamm, Soccer
2008: Khatuna Lorig, Archery
2012: Bryshon Nellum, Track and Field
2016: Simone Biles, Gymnastics