July 21, 2021
Sue Bird to carry U.S. flag in opening ceremony
Follows in footsteps of her current coach and 2004 Olympics teammate, Dawn Staley
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Sue Bird will be doing something she has never done before. In the twilight of a career that has bestowed her nearly every possible honor and achievement in her sport, it was announced on Wednesday that the 40-year-old point guard of the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team will carry the American flag into the Opening Ceremony on Friday in Tokyo.
Baseball player Eddy Alvarez will join Bird in the highly-prestigious distinction, making this the first time that two athletes will join in carrying the American flag. Roughly a third of Team USA’s 613 athletes will march in the Parade of Nations of the socially-distanced event, which is promoting gender diversity through allowing duo flag bearers.
Current U.S. coach Dawn Staley carried the flag into the Opening Ceremony at Athens in 2004, then made that moment the basis for her Hall of Fame speech in 2013. Those Athens Games were Bird’s first of five, winning the gold medal in each of her first four competitions. Bird’s resume also includes four World Championship gold medals, two NCAA championships at UConn, four WNBA titles with the Seattle Storm, and five EuroLeague championships.
In her statement from USA Basketball, Bird downplayed the individual honor and credited her teammates through the years for “setting the tone” and that it “represents all of them.”
Basketball players Miranda Ayim of Canada and Sonja Vasic of Serbia are also scheduled to carry their nations’ flags into Tokyo Olympic Stadium, and NBC will broadcast the event Friday morning at 6:55 a.m. ET/3:55 a.m. PT.
Past such honors for USA Basketball players include Teresa Edwards reciting the athletes’ oath and Katrina McClain carrying the Olympic flag during the Opening Ceremonies in Atlanta in 1996.
Written by Scott Mammoser
Scott Mammoser has covered major international events for FIBA, World Athletics and the International Skating Union. He has been to six Olympics and traveled to more than 90 countries.