Kara Winger was the 2021 U.S. flag bearer.

The U.S. Flag Bearer At The Olympics Closing Ceremony Looked So Unbelievably Proud

Javelin thrower Kara Winger has competed at a whopping four Games.

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Against all odds, the 2021 Tokyo Olympics have officially come and gone. It’s been a rush watching Team USA compete across the Summer Games, and a special athlete carried the flag during the Olympics closing ceremony. I’m talking about Kara Winger, a javelin thrower who’s no stranger to being an Olympian.

The 35-year-old has competed in a whopping four Summer Games. She finished 41st in Beijing in 2008, 31st in London in 2012, 13th in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, and 17th in Tokyo. “There’s no better way to conclude my career as an Olympic athlete than to lead the U.S. team in the closing ceremony,” Winger said in a statement.

Unfortunately, she didn’t make this year’s finals, which are limited to the top 12 javelin throwers. But because Winger tore the ACL in her left knee for the second time at a meet last year, simply making it to the Olympics at all was a huge accomplishment. In fact, the Games getting pushed back a year gave her time to recover for competition. This year’s Olympics have been heavily scrutinized around the world due to COVID-related issues in Japan, like a low national vaccination rate and a recent state of emergency in Tokyo, but at least its timing had some positives.

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I am in complete disbelief still [about being chosen as flag bearer]. It’s insane, insane!" Winger told TODAY on Friday, August 6. "Four-time Olympian, but never a finalist even, and not a medalist so it just feels incredibly — it’s such an honor to be this person that maybe represents that the point of the Olympics is about participation.”

She added that her position as flag bearer makes an important point about the role of perseverance and togetherness at the Olympics, regardless of who wins. “I kept showing up,” Winger continued. “Simone Biles showed up in the beam at the end of the Olympics, and it’s just been such a cool conversation about mental health and this example that Japan has set of putting the Olympics on, bringing the world back together again and just being here.” Well said!