New Delhi: Acting President of the Indian Olympic Association, VK Malhotra has announced that wrestler Sushil Kumar will be India’s Flag Bearer at the London Olympics.
The names of top boxer Vijender Singh, tennis legend Leander Paes and ace shooter Abhinav Bindra were also doing the rounds for the honour.
Vijender, Sushil and Bindra had all returned with medals from the last edition of the Games in Beijing in 2008.
Bindra, the country’s first individual gold medalist at the Olympics, was reportedly the preferred candidate of the IOA but since his 10m air rifle event is scheduled three days after the opening ceremony on July 30, the shooter wanted to focus on his preparations.
Similarly, Vijender’s weigh-in is scheduled for July 28 so it was tough for him to do the honours.
Paes had led the contingent in 2000 Sydney Games and IOA decided Sushil should do the honours this time.
Silver medalist in Men’s double trap at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, was the flag-bearer for Indian contingent at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Rathore is not participating at the 2012 London Olympics.
Incidentally, it was Sushil Kumar who handed the last of the Queen’s Baton to Prince Charles in the Queen’s Baton Relay for the 2010 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.
Born on May 26, 1983, Sushil Kumar Solanki, won the gold medal in the 66 kg freestyle competition at the 2010 World Wrestling Championships. Sushil later disclosed that he was without a masseur when he won three bouts within a span of 70 minutes to take the bronze. Kartar Singh, the then team manager, also a former Asian Games medalist, acted as one for him.
He then won the bronze in the Men’s 66kg Freestyle Wrestling at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This was India’s second medal in wrestling at the Olympics after 1952 Helsinki Games, when K.D. Jadhav too had bagged a bronze.
The Commonwealth Games 2010 too were “Golden” games for the wrestler. Heinrich Barnes of South Africa could not match-up to the Indian in the final which Kumar eventually won 7-0. The bout lasted three and a half minutes.
In 2009, in the same month (July), Sushil also received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. He is also a 2005 Arjuna awardee.