© John Cheng

RIO DE JANEIRO – Four-time Olympic champion Simone Biles was selected to lead the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team into Sunday’s (Aug. 21) Closing Ceremony as flag bearer, as announced today by the United States Olympic Committee. Biles was chosen by a vote of fellow Team USA members.

In her Olympic debut, Biles won team and individual gold medals in the women’s all-around, vault and floor exercise, also adding a fifth medal – bronze – on balance beam. She became the first American gymnast to win four golds at a single Games and one of only four women to accomplish the feat in Olympic history, joining Larissa Latynina (1956), Vera Caslavska (1968) and Ekaterina Szabo (1984).

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

Widely considered the best gymnast of her generation, Biles’ Olympic medal haul extended her U.S. record to 18 individual medals combined in world and Olympic competition over the last three years. Her historic performance propelled the U.S. women’s gymnastics team to a total of nine medals in Rio, surpassing the team’s previous high of eight from the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. The nine medals are the most won by any women’s team since the Soviet Union claimed 10 medals at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

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 previously serve as flag bearer, leading the U.S. delegation into the Opening Ceremony of the 1936 Olympic Games.

U.S Olympic Team Flag Bearers – 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