Athletics
Asian Games Opening ceremony: India’s flag-bearers in the last five editions

Asian Games Opening ceremony: India’s flag-bearers in the last five editions

Hockey skipper Harmanpreet Singh and Olympic medallist Lovlina Borgohain will be India's flag-bearers in the opening ceremony of the Asian Games 2023.

Asian Games: In any multi-nation sporting event, being the flag-bearers of the nation is the biggest honour that a sportsperson can get. The responsibility of bearing the country’s flag is bestowed upon to the nation’s best athletes, who will be seen as an inspiration and role model for the future. In the opening ceremony of the upcoming Asiad at Hangzhou, India’s Hockey captain Harmanpreet Singh and Boxer Lovlina Borgohain will be India’s joint flag-bearers.

It will be the first time that the Asian Games will have two flag-bearers in the push for gender parity. Over the years the nation has seen Dhanraj Pillay, Gagan Narang and most recently Neeraj Chopra leading the Indian contingent in the continental event. InsideSport takes a look at the country’s flag-bearers at the Asiad in the last five editions.

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Asian Games – India’s flag-bearers in the 21st century

Dhanraj Pillay (2002)

Former India Hockey captain Dhanraj Pillay was the flag-bearer for India at the 2002 Asian Games. It was the second successive time that Pillay was bestowed upon the honour of leading the Indian Contingent at the Asiad. He was also the flag-bearer during the 1998 edition.

KM Beenamol was the orginal choice to lead the Indian contingent in 2002. However the athlete was unable to make it in time for the opening ceremony and Pillay led in her absence. This edition of the Games was hosted by South Korea in Busan. Indian Men’s Hockey team went on to win a silver medal. They lost to South Korea in the final.

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Jyoti Sunita Kullu (2006)

In the next edition, Women’s Hockey player Jyoti Sunita Kullu was the Indian flag-bearer. She was the first Indian woman after PT Usha in 1990 to lead the contingent at the Asiad.

She was part of the gold-medal winning Commonwealth Games squad in the very same year. At the Asian Games too the Women made their way into the final. However they settled for silver after losing to South Korea in the final.

Gagan Narang (2010)

Shooter Gagan Narang led the Indian contingent in the opening ceremony of the Asiad in 2010 in Guangzhou, China. India won a total of 65 medals that year which was at that time India’s best-ever performance in the Asian Games.

Narang waon successive gold medals in three back-to-back Asiads before the 2010 edition. At Guangzhou, he couldn’t win his fourth successive gold. He was able to secured two silver medals – one in 10m air rifle and the other in the 10m air rifle team alongside Abhinav Bindra and Sanjeev Rajput.

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Sardar Singh (2014)

Sardar Singh was India’s flag-bearer in the 2014 editon of the Asian Games. It was hosted at Incheon, South Korea. Under Sardar’s captainy the Indian Hockey team went on to win gold medal in the edition. It was the third time that the Men in Blue finished on the top of the podium at the Asiad. Before this edition, the Indians bagged the gold in 1966 and 1998.

In the final, India faced arch-rivals Pakistan. The thrilling encounter ended in a 1-1 tie. India finally emerged as victors by winning the penalty shoot-out 4-2. Overall India finished eighth on the points table. The nation won a total of 57 medals in that edition including 11 gold, 10 silver and 36 bronze.

Neeraj Chopra (2018)

Much before he created history by becoming India’s first-ever athlete to win an Olympic Gold medal, Neeraj Chopra was given the honour of leading India in the 2018 Asiad. He was just 21 years old back then.

He won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games earlier that year. The youngster went on to bag another gold medal at the Asiad. He finished on the top of the podium after registering a best throw of 88.06m. China’s Liu Qizhen and Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem grabbed the next two places on the podium.

Neeraj Chopra returns to the Asiad this year as the reigning World and the Olympic champion. He will look to win his second successive gold at the Asiad.

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