TOKYO, Japan (WCMH) – Team USA announced its two flag bearers for the Olympic Opening Ceremony in Tokyo this Friday.
The two selected by their peers are Olympic veterans, including one playing in her fifth Olympic Games.
Four gold medals, four WNBA championships, 2 NCAA championships, and 12-time WNBA All-Star, Sue Bird has had quite a career already, and now, another honor: Team USA flag bearer for the Tokyo 2020 Games.
“I think I’m just blown away by it,” Bird said of Wednesday’s announcement. “It’s so humbling. It means so much to have your peers select you. It’s other athletes that pick the flag bearer.”
The honor comes 17 years after the last women’s basketball player had the honor. That was Dawn Staley, who is, coincidentally, the Team USA head coach.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Bird said. “I think it’s fitting that we’re both point guards. We’re both players that we’re always out there serving our teammates. Her only advice was the flag isn’t that heavy. I was like, ‘Cool. I can handle it then.’”
This is going to be a very unique opening ceremony because there won’t be any fans in the stands and it will be a little quieter than normal.
“Yeah, I’m sure it’s going to be really weird,” Bird said. “Last year, our WNBA season was held in a bubble, and I remember the first time we ran out, to start warming up, there was no roar of the crowd. It was really weird.”
For the first time, countries will have a male and female flag bearer. Bird will be joined by baseball player Eddy Alverez, a silver medalist in speedskating in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
For Bird, this is most likely her final Olympics, and beginning it by leading in her fellow Team USA athletes is the start of what could be a storybook ending to her career.
“I mean, not that gold medals aren’t lifelong memories, but this goes into a little bit of a different category,” she said. ‘Other athletes get together and they vote, and so they picked me. They picked Eddy. And it’s pretty crazy to kind of see how others might view you and see that they respect what you’ve done.”