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Rediff.com  » Sports » When I was told I would be flagbearer at Paris, it was hard to believe: Sharath

When I was told I would be flagbearer at Paris, it was hard to believe: Sharath

Source: PTI
Last updated on: May 31, 2024 18:22 IST
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Photograph: Hannah Mckay/Reuters

Veteran table tennis player A Sharath Kamal on Friday said he was "pretty surprised" at being named India's flagbearer at the Paris Olympics ahead of people like Tokyo Games gold-winner Neeraj Chopra and described the honour as a recognition of his years of toil.

The decision by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to appoint him as the flagbearer for the Paris Games had sparked a controversy, with the Tamil Nadu Athletics Association (TNAA) voicing dissatisfaction in rather strong words.

 

"Yes, I was pretty much surprised at first. When I was the flagbearer at Commonwealth Games, there was immense joy and so much of pride," the 41-year-old Kamal said during an online media interaction.

"When it was announced first, it was a bit hard to believe because there are people like Neeraj Chopra who have won medals at the Olympics or who are expected to win... Beyond all of them, they thought about me," he added.

Kamal, who will be appearing in his sixth Olympics, called it a recognition of his hard work over the years.

"I do understand the thing behind that because of the timing of events for athletes. For me personally, getting there as a five-time Olympian, it really recognises the toil I have done over the years not just for myself but also for the table tennis fraternity."

Reigning Olympic and world champion javelin thrower Chopra scripted history at the Tokyo Games three years ago by becoming the first Indian to win a track and field medal at the mega-event.

Kamal holds a record 10 national titles and has secured 13 medals at the Commonwealth Games, including seven gold.

The interaction was organised by Sports Authority of India (SAI) in association with Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI).

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Paris Olympics 2024

Paris Olympics 2024