The 19th edition of the Asian Games is set to commence on September 23, and India is sending its largest-ever contingent, aiming for its best performance yet in this quadrennial multi-sport event.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) took the decision on Wednesday to have joint flag-bearers for the continental showpiece.India’s impressive team consists of 655 athletes competing in 41 out of the 61 available disciplines at the Asiad. The Games will be spread across 56 venues, with a total of 481 gold medals up for grabs.
Asian Games: Indian hockey and shooting team at Hong Kong airport
While the official opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Games is scheduled for September 23, several sports like cricket, football, volleyball, and beach volleyball (qualification for knockouts) have already begun their competitions. It promises to be an exciting and action-packed event with Indian athletes vying for glory in various sports.
“We arrived at the decision after much deliberation today,” Indian contingent Chef de Mission Bhupender Singh Bajwa told PTI.
“This time we will have two flag-bearers leading the contingent at the Asian Games — hockey captain Harmanpreet and boxer Lovlina ,” added Bajwa, who is also Wushu Association of India chief.
Star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra had done the honours at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games.
Lovlina had won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics in the 69kg category. This year, she won gold in the 75kg category at the World Women’s Boxing Championship in New Delhi.
Harmanpreet is one of the best drag-flickers in the world and was part of the team that won the historic bronze at the Tokyo Games, breaking the more than four-decade-long Indian hockey team’s medal drought in the Olympics.
The Indian men’s hockey team would be aiming for a gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games to secure automatic qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
Bajwa will be assisted at the Asian Games by four deputy chefs de mission as the job entails a lot of responsibility.
(With PTI inputs)