Gymnast Simone Biles Picked To Carry American Flag In Rio Olympics Closing Ceremony

Some of the best things come in small packages.

Team USA gymnast, Simone Biles, is set to carry the American flag during the closing ceremony at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The four-time Olympic champion was chosen by her teammates to be the flag bearer at the conclusion of the Olympic competition, according to an announcement on Saturday by TeamUSA.

“It’s an incredible honor to be selected as the flag bearer by my Team USA teammates. 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.”

Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps, was the U.S. flag-bearer for the United States at the opening of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Both athletes are considered the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) in their respective sports.

Biles was already a leading light in gymnastics before the beginning of the 2016 Summer Games and is celebrated as the best gymnast in her generation, as NBC Olympics wrote over the weekend: reigning three-time world all-around champion, the most decorated American female gymnast of all time (14 total world championship medals) and four-time national all-around champion. Biles is also the first black to an all-around title. Her U.S. record extends to 18 medals over the last three years.

Today, the sprightly 19-year-old’s resume is quite impressive for her first Olympics: the first gymnast in America to win four gold medals at a single Games, individual and team golds in women’s all-around competition, floor, and vault exercises. With her four gold medals, Simone Biles joins the company of only three other women gymnasts to earn the feat: Larissa Latynina (1956), Vera Caslavska (1968), and Ekaterina Szabo (1984).

On Thursday, Simone made her mark in history and set the watermark high by winning first place in the gymnastics all-around competition. After the medal ceremony, she chatted with reporters about her historical feat saying, “I’ve finally done it. It’s so exciting. You never know the feeling until it hits you.”

As if doing damage control against the media-driven narrative that some have accused of being sexist, Simone appeared to fashion her own narrative about her historic moment in the Olympics.

“I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.”

Biles is credited with helping launch the American women’s gymnastics team to nine total medals in the Rio Olympics. The team eclipsed their previous record haul (2008 Beijing Olympics) of eight medals. The team’s performance this year is the largest of any women’s gymnastics team since 1936 when the former Soviet Union led the Olympic Games in Munich.

With her selection as the flag bearer for the Rio Summer Games, Biles is in rare air: she is one of only two gymnasts with the USA team to have the honor. Moreover, the milestone makes her the first woman to carry the flag in an Opening or Closing ceremony; Alfred Jochim was selected in at the 1936 Olympics for Opening festivities.

Biles is only the second gymnast to serve as Team USA’s flag bearer, in either the Opening or Closing Ceremony, and the first-ever female gymnast to earn the honor. Alfred Jochim is the only other American gymnast to serve previously as flag bearer as flag bearer, leading the U.S. delegation into the Opening Ceremony of the 1936 Olympic Games.

Previous U.S Olympic Team Flag Bearers for Olympics Closing Ceremony
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

With two weeks of difficult competition and media attention, Simon Biles and her teammates heading to Belize for some rest and relaxation. Biles is a dual citizen of the tiny Central American country and the United States. Simone said the government in Belize is hosting all of the team for vacation.

A photo posted by Simone Biles (@simonebiles) on Aug 18, 2016 at 9:43am PDT

“We all want to go to Belize together and then after that, we’ll probably do family vacations,” Biles said to Time.

NBC hosts the Closing Ceremony of the Rio Olympics on Sunday at 8 p.m. local time.

[Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images]