Cliff Meidl has just received another honor in the last few days. He was just selected by Ralph Lauren to wear the newly-revised Team USA Flag Bearer uniform on the “Today Show.” Cliff represented all of the previous male Team Flag Bearers and fielded questions from the NBC broadcasting crew that included Matt Lauer whom he met in Sydney, Australia in 2000 after his selection for this honor.
This is the uniform provided for 2016 Rio Olympics Flag Bearer Michael Phelps.
When this two-time USA Olympian kayaker led his Team USA Olympian teammates onto the field at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, nearly two billion viewers around the world were watching this young man from Manhattan Beach, California. Many of these viewers learned for the first time about Meidl’s courageous rehabilitation and recovery from a tragic construction accident that occurred in 1986.
Meidl had jackhammered into three buried power cables that sent approximately 30,000 volts of electricity coursing through his body. He suffered an immediate cardiac arrest at the work site before medics revived him. That powerful jolt was enough to kill several men, but somehow Cliff Meidl clung to life. “I guess I just had more to do in my life” he recalls. Meidl staged an incredible comeback and within three years was walking unassisted again. All told, he endured 17 surgical procedures to save his legs following his accident. In true Olympian fashion, Meidl found his sport of kayaking and channeled all of his energy into this sport and his goal of making the USA Olympic Kayaking Team. His first Olympian experience was in Atlanta, Georgia in the Centennial Games. Since the entire world learned about this amazing Olympian in Sydney, he has focused on a new mission: saving lives and preventing injuries. Following his retirement in 2000, Cliff became a national media spokesperson for construction and electrical safety. Currently, he is the national spokesperson for excavation safety on behalf of a number of organizations involved in Call 811 programs.
He is also enjoying his latest challenge: inspiring audiences. His story has been featured on NBC’s Olympic coverage, “The Today Show,” CBS’ “The Morning Show,” syndicated programs such as “Oprah,” cable programs and in countless magazines and newspapers.
In addition, Meidl is also the recipient of a number of prestigious awards for courage. He has received the “Patients of Courage” award from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. He has also received the ARETE Award, the Philadelphia Sportswriters’ Courage in Sports Award and the “Patsy Choco Award” from the Los Angeles Marathon. In addition, he is one of 20 initial Olympian honorees of the “Olympian Heroes Series” that salutes inspirational U.S. Olympians going back to the 1948 London Games and forward through the 2016 London Olympic Games. He is a graduate of Cal State University at Long Beach and has his graduate degree from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. Recently, Meidl received his OSHA Certificate from Cal State University at Dominguez Hills’ OTIEC Center.