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2 Minnesota natives named flag bearers for the Tokyo Paralympics Opening Ceremony

Chuck Aoki and Melissa Stockwell will carry the flag for Team USA at Tuesday's ceremony.
Credit: Team USA

TOKYO, Japan — Two Minnesota natives will carry the American flag in the opening ceremony at the Tokyo Paralympics on Tuesday morning.

Wheelchair rugby player Chuck Aoki and paratriathlete Melissa Stockwell will share the honor of flag bearers for Team USA during the ceremony at Tokyo Stadium.

It's the first time two athletes will share the honor of leading the American delegation, according to the Team USA website. Aoki and Stockwell were chosen by a vote of their fellow athletes.

Aoki is a two-time Paralympics medalist originally from Minneapolis. He'll be appearing in his third games in Tokyo, after he previously won a silver medal at the 2016 games in Rio, and a bronze medal at the 2012 Paralympics in London. 

Aoki said he's "overwhelmed but so grateful for this incredible honor" in a post to his Twitter account.

Stockwell is an Eden Prairie native and an Army veteran who lost a leg following a roadside bombing in Iraq. She received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for her service.

Like Aoki, Stockwell is also appearing in her third Paralympics. She won a bronze medal in paratriathlon at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, and previously competed in swimming during the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing. 

"It's like a dream that just keeps getting better," Stockwell said on Twitter. "Leading the best team in the world into the [world's] biggest athletic stage with [Chuck Aoki]. A team of one held together by everyone that's believed in us along the way."

The Tokyo Paralympics Opening Ceremony will stream live on the NBC Olympics website starting at 6 a.m. CT on Tuesday morning.