FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Fairfield's own Julie Chu enjoyed a rare honor Sunday, carrying the U.S. flag into the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
The 31-year-old women's hockey player was elected to the honor by her fellow members of Team USA from all sports.
“I'm completely humbled and kind of in shock; I never imagined that this would happen, especially knowing how strong the U.S. delegation is,” Chu is quoted as saying at the USA Olympic Committee website. “Our team has so many inspiring athletes who I've gotten a chance to root for. This is special and I don't take it lightly. Thank you for this great honor.”
A four-time Olympian, Chu has four Olympic medals in her collection, earning silver this year as well as in 2002 and 2010 and claiming bronze in 2006. She is tied as the second most decorated U.S. female in Olympic Winter Games history.
A member of the U.S. women's hockey team since 2000, Chu has won five world championships and was captain of the team that won gold in 2013.
“Today, Julie joins a distinguished group of athletes who have been selected to serve as flag bearer for Team USA, and I’m thrilled to congratulate her on this honor,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement. “She has been a tremendous ambassador for her sport and our athletes, and will continue to be a world-class representative of our nation at the Closing Ceremony and beyond."
While growing up in Fairfield, Chu also played soccer and was a figure skater before becoming active in youth hockey after following her brother into the sport of hockey.
After graduating in 2001 from Choate Rosemary Hall, she deferred her acceptance into Harvard University until after the 2002 Winter Olympics. A psychology major, she graduated from Harvard in 2007.
As a hockey player at Harvard, Chu became the all-time leading scorer in NCAA history and was also the team captain. She also won the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2007 for best female collegiate hockey player.
She now plays for the Montreal Stars in the Canadian Women's Hockey League.
Chu talks about the honor in a video here from the U.S. Olympic Committee website.
The closing ceremonies will be broadcast on NBC-TV starting at 8:30 p.m. Sunday.