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Simone Biles serves as U.S.’ Closing Ceremony flag bearer

Gymnast Simone Biles at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
USA TODAY Sports

Simone Biles serves as U.S.’ Closing Ceremony flag bearer

Biles is only the second U.S. gymnast to serve as a flag bearer

19-year-old gymnast Simone Biles, who won five medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, served as the United States' flag bearer at Sunday’s Closing Ceremony.

As she entered a stadium full of flashing lights, Biles - only 4'8" tall - seemed to struggle with the flag as she marched alongside representatives from 206 other nations. Shortly afterward, Olympians from various territories entered the stadium.

Making her task even more difficult, a wave of athletes stopped Biles to take selfies.

Competing at her first Olympic Games in Rio, Biles won gold medals in team, all-around, vault and floor exercise. However, a stumble during her balance beam routine meant the American would only earn a bronze in that category. 

Only three other gymnasts have won four gold medals in a single Games, most recently Ekaterina Szabo in 1984.

Even before her performance at Rio, Biles was widely recognized as one of the world’s best gymnasts, having won 10 World Championships titles since 2013.

The United States has only had one other gymnast serve as an Olympic flag bearer: Alfred Jochim, who did so at the Berlin 1936 Games' Opening Ceremonies.

Talking to the press on Saturday, Biles acknowledged the honor might pose significant challenges.

“I’m afraid the flag is going to be too heavy for me,” the gymnast said.

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