TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A speed skater from Florida will be one of two flagbearers representing United States athletes at this week’s opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Team USA announced Wednesday that Brittany Bowe, who is from Ocala, will act as flagbearer at Friday’s ceremony and walk on behalf of bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor, who is in COVID-19 isolation. Team USA athletes voted for Meyers Taylor and curler John Shuster to be flagbearers. Bowe was the runner up in that vote.
Meyers Taylor announced earlier this week that she tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Beijing.
“I am asymptomatic and currently at an isolation hotel- and yes I am completely isolated,” she wrote on Twitter. She added that she’s “remaining optimistic that I’ll be able to recover quickly and still have the opportunity to compete.”
Due to Meyers Taylor being in isolation, Bowe will step in and walk alongside Shuster to lead their fellow United States athletes into the opening ceremony. In a tweet, Meyers Taylor said there is “no one more deserving!” than Bowe to walk on her behalf.
“While I cannot carry the flag and walk in with the rest of Team USA, Brittany is very deserving of the opportunity to lead our delegation on my behalf,” the bobsledder said in a statement. “She is an incredible person with an exemplary character.”
In a statement, Bowe called the opportunity to be flagbearer “the honor of a lifetime.”
“I will be taking on this responsibility, and will proudly carry the American flag alongside John, on behalf of Elana, her family, and all of Team USA!” she wrote on Instagram.
This will be Bowe’s third time competing in the Olympics. She previously competed in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Last month, the Florida Atlantic University graduate made headlines when she gave up her spot in the 500-meter race so her friend and fellow Ocala native Erin Jackson could qualify for the Olympics and join her in Beijing.
“She has earned her spot,” Bowe said at the time. “Erin is absolutely on top of her game now.”