Members of Team USA selected fencer Mariel Zagunis to carry the flag for the U.S. during Friday’s opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics. The former Notre Dame fencing All-American, national champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist will lead the 529-member delegation when they march into the stadium at the London Games.
“I’m extremely humbled by this incredible privilege,” said Zagunis in a statement. “As an athlete, I can’t imagine a higher honor than to lead Team USA into the Olympic Games, which are the pinnacle of sport and a platform for world peace. I am tremendously proud to represent my sport, our team and, most importantly, the United States of America.”
Zagunis will be the third fencer to serve as the U.S. flag bearer for the Olympic Opening Ceremony. In 2004 she became the first U.S. fencer to win the gold at the Olympics in 100 years.
“I’d like to congratulate Mariel on this tremendous honor,” said U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun. “It’s especially fitting in the year of the 40th anniversary of Title IX, when Team USA for the first time in history has more women than men, that Mariel receive the extraordinary honor that is carrying our nation’s flag into this celebration of humanity.”
Zagunis will compete in the individual sabre event on August 1. The last female flag bearer was three-time gold medalist and basketball player Dawn Staley in 2004. The former WNBA All-Star is currently the head coach of the University of South Carolina.
Previous U.S. Olympic Team Flag Bearers
1908 – Ralph Rose, Track & Field
1912 – George V. Bonhag, Track & Field
1920 – Patrick J. McDonald, Track & Field
1924 – Patrick J. McDonald, Track & Field
1928 – Lemuel (Bud) C. Houser, Track & Field
1932 – F. Morgan Taylor, Track & Field
1936 – Alfred A. Jochim, Gymnastics
1948 – Ralph C. Craig, Yachting
1952 – Norman C. Armitage, Fencing
1956 – Norman C. Armitage, Fencing, Warren B. Wooford, Equestrian*
1960 – Rafer L. Johnson, Track & Field
1964 – William Parry O’Brien, Track & Field
1968 – Janice Lee Romary, Fencing
1972 – Olga Fikotova Connolly, Track & Field
1976 – Gary W. Hall, Swimming
1980 – U.S. did not attend
1984 – Edward Burke, Track & Field
1988 – Evelyn Ashford, Track & Field
1992 – Francie Larrieu Smith, Track & Field
1996 – Bruce Baumgartner, Wrestling
2000 – Cliff Meidl, Canoe/Kayak
2004 – Dawn Staley, Basketball
2008 – Lopez Lomong, Track & Field
*Due to Australia’s immigration laws for horses, the 1956 equestrian events were held in Stockholm, Sweden.
Source: Team USA