Indian Flagbearers at the Olympics

Sitam Chaki
|Published August 05, 2016

Abhinav Bindra has been given the honour of being the Indian flagbearer at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Bindra is well known as being the first (and till date, only) individual Olympic gold medallist for India. Here, we take a look at 5 other individuals to carry flag at previous Games.

1. Sushil Kumar, London 2012

Sushil Kumar was the flagbearer for India at the 2012 Olympics<br /> source:
Sushil Kumar was the flagbearer for India at the 2012 Olympics

Sushil Kumar was given the honour of carrying India’s flag in the 2012 London Olympics. Kumar was a bronze medallist in the 2008 Games. He lost to Andriy Stadnik in the first round of the 66 kg freestyle wrestling event, leaving his medal hopes hanging by a thread.

He defeated Doug Schwab in the first repechage round and Albert Batyrov in the second round. In the bronze medal match on 20 August 2008, Kumar beat Leonid Spiridonov 3:1.

Also Read: Indian wrestling at the OLympics

Following this, Kumar became the first Indian to win a world title in wrestling. He beat the local favourite Alan Gogaev of Russia 3–1 in the finals in the 66 kg category. He has also won gold at the Commonwealth Games of 2010 and 2014.

Thus, Kumar found himself carrying India’s flag in London, 2012. He matched expectations by claiming silver in the 66 kg category.

2. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Beijing 2008

Rajyavardhan Rathore;
Rajyavardhan Rathore;

At the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, Rathore won a Gold Medal and set a new Commonwealth Games Record of 192 targets out of 200.

Rathore shot into prominence when he won a silver medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics. He won the medal in the Men’s double Trap. Thus, Rathore became the first individual silver medallist of independent India.

Also Read: Indian shooting at the Olympics

He went on to successfully defend his Commonwealth Champion title by winning the Gold Medal at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006. He also won Gold Medals in two World Shooting Championships, at Sydney in 2004 and Cairo in 2006.

Following his achievements, rathore was chosen as the flag bearer, for the Indian contingent, in the 2008 Olympics.

3. Anju Bobby George, Athens 2004

Anju Bobby George;
Anju Bobby George;

Anju Bobby George is a former Indian athlete.  She made history when she won the bronze medal in Long Jump at the 2003 World Championships in Athletics in Paris. With this achievement, she became the first Indian athlete ever to win a medal in a World Championships in Athletics jumping 6.70 m.

Also Read: Indian weightlifting at the Olympics

Anju was given the honour of being India’s flag bearer at the 2004 Athens Olympics. At the event, she achieved her personal best of 6.83 m that brought her the fifth position. This is the current Indian national record.

She went on to win the Gold medal at the IAAF World Athletics Final in 2005. She considers this performance her career best.

4. Leander Paes, Sydney 2000

Leander Paes
Leander Paes

Leander Paes needs no introduction. He has been the torch bearer of Indian tennis for the last 2 decades.

A 23 year old Paes had won bronze in the men’s singles event at the 1996 Barcelona Olympics. He beat Fernando Meligeni in the bronze medal play off. Tus, Paes became the first Indian to win an individual Olympic medal since KD Jadhav in 1952.

Also Read: Indian tennis at the Olympics

Since then, Paes has gone on to achieve phenomenal success in doubles tennis. He has won 8 men’s doubles Grand Slams and as many as 10 mixed doubles Grand Slams.

Paes was India’s flag bearer in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. By that time, he had won 2 men’s doubles Grand Slams with Mahesh Bhupathi. He had also a mixed doubles Grand Slam in 1999.

5. Pargat Singh, Atlanta 1996

Pargat Singh;
Pargat Singh;

Pargat Singh is a hockey player turned politician. Playing at full back, was considered as one of the world’s best defenders. He captained Indian men’s hockey team at 1992 Barcelona Olympics and 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Also Read: Indian hockey at the Olympics

In the 1985 hockey Champions Trophy, Singh scored 4 goals in 6 minutes against Germany. The score, at one point, was 5-1 in favour of the Germans. Then Pargat unleashed his heroics securing a draw.

Following his achievements, he was given the honour of being India’s flag bearer in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

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