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Megan Rapinoe recalls moment she found out Sue Bird would be Team USA flag bearer

Sue Bird is only the second basketball player to serve as Team USA's flag bearer at the Olympics.
/ Source: TODAY

During an interview before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, soccer star Megan Rapinoe opened up about the moment her fiancée, basketball star Sue Bird, found out she would be the flag bearer for Team USA.

Since the 1908 Games in London, athletes have carried the flag of their country during the opening ceremony. Typically, just one person serves as flag bearer, but this year, it was changed to two as the International Olympic Committee encouraged each country to send one male and one female athlete as part of "the first gender-equal Olympic Games ever."

Bird, who has won four gold medals with the U.S. women's basketball team and competed in the Olympics since 2004, carried the flag along with baseball player and speed skater Eddy Alvarez. According to Rapinoe, the moment was incredibly special for Bird.

"Obviously, she's a five-time Olympian going for her fifth gold medal," Rapinoe said. "I get to see just how much that means to her and how much she puts into it. So, I know this means the world to her and I just couldn't be prouder and happier."

Bird, 40, was first told that she would be the flag bearer during a team practice. In a short speech, Bird said that success is "never on one person."

"Anything I get has to do with the people that are here and do it with me," Bird said at the time.

In her interview, Rapinoe referenced Bird's comments.

"She told me on text. She heard at practice," Rapinoe said. "She was, in typical Sue fashion, very low key about it. But I did see the video when (coach Dawn Staley) told her, and I think that says it all. You know, unlike me, she doesn't like a lot of the attention. But I think you can tell in that moment just how much it meant to her."

Bird is only the second U.S. basketball player to serve as a flag bearer. In 2004, coach Dawn Staley, who announced that Bird would be filling the role, was the flag bearer.

Flag bearers are chosen by their teammates, and in an interview with TODAY earlier this week, Bird said that she was moved to know that the other athletes on Team USA chose her to represent them.

"I think that’s the best part, to be honest, to have your peers be the one to kind of see your career and pick you to be the one to lead us in," Bird said Wednesday.