Asian Games: Who were India's flagbearers at Opening Ceremony in past editions?
Being a flagbearer at a mega event is an unmeasurable pride for any athlete. Harmanpreet Singh and Lovlina Borgohain are India's flagbearers at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
From flag gliding to flag bearing! What makes a sportsperson more proud than ever?
Being a flagbearer at a mega event is an unmeasurable pride for any athlete. Carrying the national flag while also representing the country in the opening and closing ceremonies is one of the most prized opportunities top athletes wait for.
Even though it is purely ceremonial in function the pride associated with it is immense and immeasurable. Like a soldier carrying Indian flags on the battlefield evokes emotions, flag bearing in mega sports events is an honour and the moment holds a sentimental value. It associates the athlete with the identity of the country, more than anybody else.
By holding their national flag during the Parade of Nations, the flagbearer becomes the lasting mark of their national values and indeed of the tournament’s ideals, and a great inspiration for future generations.
For the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has decided to have two flag-bearers. India's Chef de Mission Bhupender Singh Bajwa stated that they arrived at this decision after much deliberation.
Who are the Indian flagbearers at the Hangzhou Asian Games?
Harmanpreet Singh and ace boxer Lovlina Borgohain - the two Olympic medallists - will lead the Indian contingent during the ceremonial parade at the opening ceremony of the Asian Games on September 23 at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium. By giving equal representation to male and female athletes, India also omitted the question of gender disparity.
Lovlina, the women's welterweight boxer, is a reigning amateur world champion. The 25-year-old is also the world and Asian champion. At the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, the Assam girl became the only second Indian female boxer after Mary Kom to win an Olympic medal and a gold at the world boxing championships.
Likewise, Harmanpreet Singh, the drag-flicking specialist and the captain of the Indian men's hockey team, is an Olympic bronze medallist. He was India's leading scorer at the Tokyo Olympics with six goals, helping India to end a 41-year wait for the Olympic medal in hockey. At the Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham last year, he also guided India to a silver medal.
Neeraj Chopra, the flagbearer
Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra was the flag bearer for the opening ceremony at the 18th edition of the Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia, while former women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal was the flag bearer for the closing ceremony. Olympic and world champion Neeraj was the winner of the men’s javelin throw event and Rampal led the team to a silver medal finish in Jakarta.
A brief look at Indian flagbearers in Asian Games
1951 Delhi - the beginning
The 1951 Asian Games was the first edition held in New Delhi, India. The parade of the nations was not the same as the contemporary parade, but it was quite unique. The Asian Games flag was hoisted with a blazing sun and 11 rings - one for each competing nation, symbolizing peace. The march past was led by Afghanistan, whose contingent was followed by Burma, Ceylon, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Malaya, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
In accordance with the Olympic tradition, India, the host country brought up the rear. The climax of the ceremony was reached when the 1924 Olympian Brigadier Dalip Singh brought the lamp of honour and Baldev Singh, the senior-most member of the Indian Athletics Team, recited the oath.
The second chapter- Asian Games again in India
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was the venue for the 1982 Asian Games. The 1982 Asiad also marked the coloured telecasting of television in India. Five-time Olympian Karni Singh, a shooting champion, was the flagbearer of the Indian contingent in the Games.
Another time China hosted the Asian Games
Olympian shooter Gagan Narang was the flag bearer in the opening ceremony of the Asian Games held in Guangzhou, China, in 2010.
The Payyoli Express led the Asian Games Opening Ceremony
Indian athlete P.T. Usha was the Indian contingent's flag-bearer for the Asian Games in 1990. She is the most successful Indian athlete in the Games' history, with 11 shining medals to her name - four gold, and seven silver.
Dhanraj Pillay (1998, 2002), Jyoti Sunita Kullu (2006), Gagan Narang (2010), Sardar Singh (2014), and Neeraj Chopra (2018) were India's other flag-bearers at the continental showpiece.