Create
Notifications

From Sydney to Rio: Who were India's flag-bearers at the last five Olympics?

Abhinav Bindra at the Opening Ceremony Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Abhinav Bindra at the Opening Ceremony Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Prakhar Sachdeo

World champion and Olympic silver medalist PV Sindhu is the front-runner to lead the Indian contingent at the opening ceremony of Tokyo Olympics 2020.

The ace-shuttler is likely to get the honor of walking with the Indian flag on the merit of her performances in the past four years at big events like - Rio Olympics 2016, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, and various World Championships.

At the Rio Games, Sindhu clinched a silver medal in the women's singles as she went down against Spain's Carolina Marin 21-19, 12-21, 15-21. By winning the silver medal, Sindhu became the first Indian woman to clinch a silver in Badminton at the Olympics.

Following her silver medal at the Olympics, Sindhu claimed silver medals at the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games. Sindhu won a gold at the 2019 BWF World Championships where she defeated Nozomi Okuhara 21-7, 21-7 in the final. It made her the first Indian singles player to win the gold medal in the prestigious event.

Also read: How PV Sindhu kept herself motivated after missing out on gold at Rio Olympics

With the grand ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics less than 30 days away, let us look back at the Olympians who have had the honor of being the Indian flag bearers in the past five Olympic events.

5. Abhinav Bindra at Rio Olympics 2016

Abhinav Bindra Opening Ceremony Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Abhinav Bindra Opening Ceremony Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Abhinav Bindra made India proud when he claimed the gold medal in the 10m air rifle event at the Bejing Olympics 2008. He became India's first individual gold medalist at the Summer games. Bindra till date remains the only Indian to claim a gold medal at an individual level at the Olympics. The 2014 Commonwealth Games yielded him his second gold.

Initially, Bindra was asked to carry the Indian flag at London Olympics 2012, but Bindra had humbly declined the offer then as the opening ceremony of the London games was too close to his event. Bindra, however, gracefully accepted the offer the second time at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Bindra also carried the Indian flag at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

4. Sushil Kumar at London Olympics 2012

Sushil Kumar carrying the Indian flag and leading the Indian contingent at the 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony
Sushil Kumar carrying the Indian flag and leading the Indian contingent at the 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

When Bindra declined the offer to carry the Indian flag at the opening ceremony of the London Games, the opportunity fell to wrestler Sushil Kumar. The wrestler accepted the offer with pride and led the Indian team at the opening ceremony of the London games.

In the previous Olympics hosted by Bejing, Sushil Kumar had clinched a bronze medal in the 66kg freestyle event, beating Kazakhstan's Leonid Spiridonov. He had thus become only the second Indian after KD Jadhav to win an Olympic medal in wrestling. Leading into the London Olympic Games, Sushil Kumar had claimed gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and World Championships held in 2010.

Also Read: PR Sreejesh is experienced enough to handle pressure, says former Indian hockey goalkeeper and Olympian Dr. AB Subbaiah

youtube-cover

At the London games, Sushil Kumar scripted history. The wrestler won the silver medal in the men's 66kg freestyle as he lost the final against Tatuhiro Yonemitsu. But by claiming the silver medal, Sushil Kumar became the first and the only Indian to win two individual Olympic medals.

3. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore at 2008 Bejing Games

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore carrying the Indian flag at the 18th Commonwealth Games - Opening Ceremony
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore carrying the Indian flag at the 18th Commonwealth Games - Opening Ceremony

For the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it was Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore who carried the Indian flag. The army major got this rare opportunity due to his excellent performance at the Athens Olympics.

youtube-cover

At the Athens Olympics in 2004, Rathore claimed a silver medal in the men's double trap. The silver medal was significant for multiple reasons. Firstly it was India's only medal at the Athens Games. Secondly, it was India's first individual silver. Thirdly, it was India's first Olympic medal in shooting.

And finally, Rathore was the first Indian post-independence to win individual silver at the Olympics. Rathore's success at the Athens games inspired many Indians to pick the sport of shooting as a professional career.

2. Anju Bobby George at 2004 Athens Games

Anju Bobby George carrying the Indian flag at the Opening ceremony of Athens 2004 Olympics
Anju Bobby George carrying the Indian flag at the Opening ceremony of Athens 2004 Olympics

Long jumper Anju Bobby George carried the Indian flag and led the 78-member Indian contingent at the Athens Olympics 2004.

Anju Bobby George was the first Indian to win a bronze medal at the World Athletics meet when she finished third in the long jump event. Before claiming the bronze medal at the World Athletics, Anju Bobby George had already won gold medal at the Asian Games 2002 in Busan.

Anju Bobby George rightly deserved to carry the Indian flag at the opening ceremony of the Indian games.

Leander Paes at Sydney Olympics 2000

Leander Paes with Indian flag
Leander Paes with Indian flag

Leander Paes carried the Indian flag at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics 2000. In the previous Olympics, hosted by Atlanta, Paes had stunned the world as he claimed a bronze medal in men's singles tennis. He had lost to Andre Agassi in the semifinals. In the bronze medal match against Fernando Meligeni, Paes came back from a set down to win the match 3-6 6-2 6-4.

Paes' achievement was significant as it was India's first individual medal at the Olympics in 44 years. What made his success even sweeter was the fact that he competed with a severely injured wrist.

For the next Olympics, Paes was rightly given the honor to bear the Indian flag.


Edited by Diptanil Roy

Comments

Quick Links:

More from Sportskeeda
Fetching more content...