The latest Michael Phelps news coming out of the Olympics in Rio is a good one for the gold medal winner: He’s just been named as the Team USA flag bearer!
That’s the word coming from CNN, which says that the swimmer will be “honored” with this task on Friday when the games begin. Phelps is the first swimmer to carry the flag for Team USA since Gary Hall had the honor back in 1976.
In a statement, Michael Phelps said that he was pleased to be given this task.
“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. 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.”
In other Michael Phelps news, the Source is reporting that the swimmer — who, with 22 medals overall, including 18 gold medals, is the most decorated Olympian of all time — will be wearing a special illuminated blazer designed by Polo Ralph Lauren. It’s unclear whether Phelps, or Team USA, is sponsored by the clothing brand, but it would make sense considering that Phelps is endorsed by countless other brands, including Under Armor, Subway, and Visa. This will also be the first Olympic ceremony that Michael Phelps will walk in, though it will be his fifth Olympics.
Almost immediately after the announcement was made, Michael Phelps became a trending topic on Twitter, with fans and journalists alike weighing in on how important this was for both Team USA and for Phelps. Several users, in fact, commented on the fact that this would be the perfect opportunity for the Olympian to say goodbye to the Olympics in a proper manner without the cloud of controversy hanging over his head.
As USA Today is reporting in their latest opinion piece, Michael Phelps has made the news for good and bad reasons. Even though his place in Olympic history is secure and his competence is unquestioned, his reputation has been tarnished because of the fact that he was once photographed smoking marijuana. In hindsight, this shouldn’t be considered a big deal, as many Olympic athletes are held to a high standard — and some may say an impossibly high standard. This is not to say that Michael Phelps shouldn’t have been criticized for being caught with marijuana, but this is to say that Phelps of all people should have known better than to be so reckless with his downtime and his company.
That being said, Michael Phelps has a completely new image to promote. He’s a family man now — what with a fiancee and a young son to look after — and time tends to look favorably upon the transgressions of youth, especially when it comes to our beloved athletes. We don’t admire them because they’re the paragons of moral value, we admire them because of their supreme physical prowess.
You will undoubtedly see Michael Phelps in the news, especially as the opening ceremonies draw closer.
The Rio Olympics begin this Friday on NBC channels. Check your local listings for times and precise channels. Which of the Olympics games will you be watching? Will you be watching the Olympics at all?
[Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]