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India look for deserving flag-bearer

August 03, 2004 16:27 IST

The Indian Olympic Association is still undecided about who is going to be the country's flag-bearer at the Athens Olympics, even after giving a send-off to part of the 75-member Games contingent.

Tennis player Leander Paes had the honour of carrying the tricolour at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics four years ago, but this time, with less than two weeks to go for the mega event, the IOA said it is still scouting for a deserving sportsman to do the honours.

"We are yet to decide who will be the flag-bearer in Athens. We have many names but we are deciding on who is more deserving," IOA secretary-general Randhir Singh told reporters at the send-off function in Delhi on Monday night.

On India's prospects at the Olympics, Singh said he is confident of the country winning "not just one but a few medals there".

"The preparations have been good and we are yet to get any complaints regarding this from any quarter. So it's very satisfying," he said.

"This is the best-ever Indian contingent. I have not seen such a strong team for the last 40 years. We can win at least four to five medals." 

Singh gave high marks to the reunited tennis pair of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, who won the Toronto Masters Doubles title on Sunday, and said the duo has a very good chance of finishing on the podium in Athens.

"I am glad to know about their win. It is great news for the entire country and could not have come at a better time. I am sure they will win a medal."

IOA president Suresh Kalmadi said the performance of Indian athletes in recent global meets showed that the sportspersons of the country have started doing well on the international stage.

"We came up with our best-ever performance in the Busan Asian Games. We also had our best show in Manchester Commonwealth Games. Although the Olympics is altogether a different cup of tea, we are still hopeful of winning a few medals," Kalmadi said.

Several members of the contingent, including members of the women's weightlifting team -- Karnam Malleswari, Kunjarani Devi, Sanamacha Chanu and Pratima Kumari; shuttlers Aparna

Popat, Nikhil Kanetkar and Abhinn Shyam Gupta; swimmer Shikha Tandon; judoka Akram Shah and the wrestling team attended the function, organised by Sahara, the official partners of the

Indian contingent.

Kalmadi said those athletes undergoing training in foreign countries would proceed to Greece directly while the rest would go from India in batches on August 5, 6 and 7.

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