One of the greatest honors an athlete can receive is getting the opportunity to carry their nation's flag at the Olympics. It's a recognition of athletic excellence, as well as a unique chance to represent an entire country on a world stage.
At the 2014 Winter Olympics, Julie Chu has officially been tasked with carrying the American flag at the closing ceremony in Sochi.
This news comes less than a day after Chu and the U.S. women's hockey team suffered arguably the most heartbreaking loss in recent Olympic history, as Canada fought back from a 2-0 deficit with under four minutes remaining and captured the gold in overtime.
Despite the loss, Chu remained positive after receiving her silver medal, which is the fourth Olympic medal of her decorated international career.
Thank you everyone for the overwhelming support this entire Olympic Games. I am so blessed to be a part of this team. My sisters #TeamFirst— Julie Chu (@juliechu13) February 20, 2014
At 31, this is probably Chu's last Olympics. As a player who has been one of the faces of women's hockey for more than a decade, she's a fitting choice to carry the flag for the United States.
With a lone assist in five games, Chu clearly isn't the offensive presence on the back end that she was even four years ago, when she posted six points in Vancouver, but the former Harvard University star brings much more to the table.
Despite her decline in production, both her teammates and head coach told ESPN's Wayne Drehs about how much Chu meant to this squad.
"She just brings experience," said U.S. coach Katey Stone, who was also Chu's coach at Harvard. "She's in the right place at the right time, ready to make plays. She overcommunicates with her teammates. She helps them stay calmer on so many levels. She's a caring soul. We wouldn't be here without her."
Says 22-year-old forward Amanda Kessel, noting Chu's work ethic: "You know what you're going to get out of her every day. I think that's something us younger players really admire in her."
Chu's legacy as one of the greatest female hockey players in American history has been cemented for quite some time, especially given that she was the first Asian-American ever to play for the women's team.
It would have been nice for Chu to end her Olympic career by finally capturing a gold medal, but a silver and an invitation to carry her country's flag with the world watching isn't a bad consolation prize for the legendary rearguard.