Holding the country's flag high in the parade of nations at the Olympics is one of the greatest honours for an athlete. The flag-bearing ceremony has been an important part of the Olympics for nearly as long as the global sporting showpiece has been running.
Every four years, the world gets a glimpse of a myriad of athletes beaming with patriotism while carrying their national flags at the Olympics. As has been the case in the past, there is much suspense about who will receive the honour of bearing India's flag at the Tokyo Olympics.
In a historic first, India might have one male and one female flag-bearer at the Tokyo Olympics to promote gender parity. However, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is yet to decide who will be the flag-bearers. Many big names are doing the rounds, with medal winners from the Rio Olympics being the frontrunners.
With the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon, here's a look at the top five athletes who could be India's flag-bearer at the Tokyo Olympics:
#5 Rani Rampal (Hockey)
Leading by example, women's hockey star Rani Rampal has been donning the captain’s role with much authority. At 15 years of age, she represented India at the 2010 Hockey World Cup.
In the next few years, Rampal provided a much-needed boost to the women’s team and Indian hockey in general. Her unyielding ambition has indubitably helped her team in terms winning medals or qualification for the Tokyo Olympics.
#4 Deepika Kumari (Archery)
Deepika Kumari is one of the most successful archers in the country. At 15 years of age, she won the 11th Youth World Archery Championships title in 2009. She also clinched gold in the women's team's recurve event alongside Dola Banerjee and Bombayala Devi in the same competition.
Having taken her elevation to a World No. 1 rank as a routine happening, Deepika Kumari recently won the women's individual recurve gold at the World Cup. With an unmatched combination of skill and accuracy, she has won almost every major medal in her international career thus far.
#3 Bajrang Punia (Wrestling)
Currently ranked first in the world, Bajrang Punia could be India's flagbearer at the Tokyo Olympics. One of India's top wrestlers, Punia, has outclassed some of the biggest names in the sport.
Trained by veteran Yogeshwar Dutt, Punia is the lone Indian wrestler to win three World Championships medals. The 27-year-old will look to have a shot at reaching the podium in the men's 65kg freestyle category at the Tokyo Olympics.
#2 Neeraj Chopra (Athletics)
Currently ranked seventh in the Road To Tokyo rankings, Neeraj Chopra has been on a ruthless streak in recent years.
He stole the spotlight by setting a new U-20 world record at the IAAF U-20 World Championships in 2016. Neeraj Chopra has had an upward swing in fortunes ever since. He added another feather to his cap by being the flag-bearer of the Indian contingent at the 2018 Asian Games.
#1 PV Sindhu (Badminton)
Reigning badminton world champion PV Sindhu is arguably India's best athlete since the turn of the century. She carved out a new record by becoming the first-ever Indian to win gold at the BWF World Championships. Her silver-medal finish at the Rio Olympics guided her to a career-high ranking of world no. 2.
The 25-year-old PV Sindhu has laid down a record of winning medals at every World Championships, with the exception of 2015. She is also the recipient of both Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Padma Shri awards.