Asian Games: The Asian Games 2023 are all set to dazzle the world with their grand opening ceremony in Hangzhou, China. Among the highlights of this prestigious event is the selection of flag-bearers, a tradition that showcases the nation’s best athletes.
This Year (2023), India has chosen Hockey captain Harmanpreet Singh and Olympic medallist Lovlina Borgohain as its joint flag-bearers. Let’s take a look at India’s flag-bearers in the last five editions of the Asian Games.
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1. Dhanraj Pillay (2002):
Dhanraj Pillay, the former captain of the Indian Hockey team, had the honor of being India’s flag-bearer in the 2002 Asian Games held in Busan, South Korea.
This marked the second consecutive time that Pillay led the Indian contingent at the Asiad. Unfortunately, India narrowly missed the gold, settling for silver after losing to South Korea in the final. It was a memorable moment in the history of Indian sports.
2. Jyoti Sunita Kullu (2006):
In the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, Jyoti Sunita Kullu, a Women’s Hockey player, made history as India’s flag-bearer. She became the first Indian woman since PT Usha in 1990 to lead the contingent at the Asiad.
The Indian women’s team reached the final but had to settle for silver after a hard-fought battle with South Korea.
3. Gagan Narang (2010):
Shooter Gagan Narang had the privilege of leading the Indian contingent in the opening ceremony of the 2010 Asian Games held in Guangzhou, China.
India had a remarkable outing that year, securing a total of 65 medals, marking India’s best-ever performance at the Asian Games at that time. Gagan Narang, known for his shooting prowess, had previously won three successive gold medals in Asiads but achieved two silver medals in the 2010 edition.
4. Sardar Singh (2014):
Sardar Singh, the former Indian Hockey captain, was bestowed with the honor of being India’s flag-bearer in the 2014 Asian Games hosted in Incheon, South Korea.
Under Sardar’s leadership, the Indian Hockey team secured the gold medal, marking the third time that India stood at the top of the podium at the Asiad. In a thrilling final against arch-rivals Pakistan, India emerged victorious in a penalty shootout, securing a historic gold medal.
5. Neeraj Chopra (2018):
Neeraj Chopra, who would later make history by becoming India’s first-ever athlete to win an Olympic Gold medal, led India in the 2018 Asian Games when he was just 21 years old.
Earlier that year, he had clinched a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. Neeraj went on to secure another gold at the Asiad with a best throw of 88.06m, making the nation proud.
This year, he returns to the Asian Games as the reigning World and Olympic champion, aiming to clinch his second successive gold at the Asiad.
The tradition of flag-bearers at the Asian Games not only symbolizes the nation’s pride but also serves as an inspiration for future generations of athletes.
Harmanpreet Singh and Lovlina Borgohain now step into the shoes of their illustrious predecessors, ready to carry the Indian flag with honor and determination at the Asian Games 2023 opening ceremony.