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|August 22, 2000||
Leander Paes is India's flagbearer
Tennis ace Leander Paes will carry India's flag at the September 15-October 1 Sydney Olympic Games, Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi announced in Delhi on Tuesday.
Being the only Olympic medal winner in the 61-strong contingent, the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games bronze medallist who is currently playing at the Hamlet Cup tournament in Long Island, New York, was the unanimous choice.
"Paes will be India's flagbearer and captain at the Sydney Games," Kalmadi said at a function to announce IOA's association with Satyam Infoway for the next month's Olympics.
The 1999 Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion becomes the first tennis sportsperson to carry the country's flag at the quadrennial Games.
Hockey star Pargat Singh led the Indian contingent at the opening and closing ceremonies at Atlanta four years ago.
A different school of thought did persist with some campaigning for mercurial striker Dhanraj Pillay, who is probably playing his last Olympics, to be given the honour with hockey being projected as the medal-winning sport at Sydney Games.
Paes was also the frontrunner for the flagbearer's post at the Bangkok Asian Games in 1998, but he had to withdraw from the event following injury and Pillay carried the flag. And for good measure, the mercurial forward led the Indian team to a gold-winning performance.
Pistol ace Jaspal Rana was India's leader at the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games in 1998 and he returned with two gold medals.
Mail Sports Editor
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