Wednesday morning it was announced on TODAY that five-time Olympian Michael Phelps was selected to be the flag bearer when the delegation enters the Maracanã Friday night. It’s certainly a special honor for Phelps, as it’s determined by a vote in which all the members of Team USA participate. And while Phelps arrived in Rio as the most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 22 medals (18 being gold medals), the path to this point after announcing that he was done with swimming following the 2012 London Olympics wasn’t always smooth for the Baltimore native.
Four months after coming out of retirement to compete at the Arena Grand Prix in Charlotte in May 2014, Phelps was arrested for driving under the influence and as a result suspended for six months by USA Swimming. Phelps would enter treatment shortly thereafter, beginning the process that ultimately led to his making the Olympic swim team that will represent the United States in Rio.
Phelps’ return to the pool will afford him the opportunity to lead Team USA Friday night. In an interview with Hoda Kotb and Matt Lauer on TODAY Wednesday morning, Phelps discussed the honor and the emotions he’ll feel when he leads Team USA into the Maracanã.