ATHENS, Greece (August 28, 2004) - Mia Hamm was elected by her 2004 Olympic Team peers to be the U.S. flagbearer for the Closing Ceremonies in the Olympic Stadium on Sunday night. Hamm, a three-time Olympic medalist, is the first athlete from the sport of soccer chosen to carry the flag at an Olympic Games.
“This is emotional, and I’m truly speechless,” said Hamm. “I was expecting to be a follower tomorrow night, just to go wherever I was pointed, and now I’m carrying the flag. It’s a tremendous honor, and I thank my fellow Olympians for thinking of me.”
After winning the gold in 1996 and the silver in 2000, Hamm and the U.S. Women's National Team defeated Brazil 2-1 in overtime on Thursday, Aug. 26 to win the third Women's Olympic Football Tournament. Scoring in the opening round matches vs. Greece and Brazil, Hamm ends her Olympic career with five goals in 15 appearances - all as a starter.
The victory for the U.S. was a sweet return to the top of the women’s soccer mountain for the United States, who in addition to Olympic gold in the USA in 1996 won FIFA Women’s World Cup crowns in 1991 and 1999.
“There are only a few times when you can write the final chapter the way you want to,” said Hamm Thursday's victory.
Carrying the U.S. flag will serve as a career addendum for the 32-year-old forward, who has announced that this Olympics was her last major international tournament.
Hamm will return to the field this fall with her U.S. teammates for the 10-game Fan Celebration Tour that begins against Iceland on Sept. 25 at Frontier Field in Rochester, N.Y., where Hamm scored her 100th international goal in 1998. The remaining dates, venues and opponents on the tour will be released in the near future and fans are encouraged to log on to ussoccer.com to register to receive the latest ticketing information as it becomes available.
“I feel honored to be a part of U.S. Soccer every time I step on the field,” said Hamm, the two-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year.. “Leading my country and the U.S. Olympic Team, which I am so proud to be a part of, is something truly special.”
The entire U.S. team will be present for the Closing Ceremonies, which will be broadcast in prime time on NBC on Sunday night. Check local listings.