Ending days of speculation, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Sunday announced that wrestler Sushil Kumar, bronze-medallist at the Beijing Games, would be the flag-bearer of the Indian contingent at the London Olympics.
The names of top boxer Vijender Singh, tennis legend Leander Paes and 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.
IOA acting president VK Malhotra announced that Sushil would be India's flag-bearer.
Bindra, the country's first individual gold-medallist 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 the IOA decided Sushil should do the honours this time.
Meanwhile, Sushil thanked the IOA for choosing him as the flag-bearer and vowed to give his best at the biggest sporting event. "I am thankful to the people of the country that they have shown faith in me. With this honour also comes the responsibility to deliver at the Olympics. I am hopeful, we will be able to give our best at the Olympics," Sushil said on arrival from the US after attending a training camp.
AFI mulls trials in future
In a bid to prevent unfit athletes from competing at the big stage such as the Olympics, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) is mulling selection trials before major international events in future. AFI's move came after it asked three athletes --- triple jumpers Renjith Maheshwary and Mayookha Johny and marathoner Ram Singh Yadav --- to prove their fitness before leaving for London.
AFI's contention is that they have not taken part in any competition after crossing the Olympics qualification mark. AFI president Adille Sumariwala said that the selection committee discussed the issue, as it has been a practice followed in the United States and Jamaica.
"The selection committee in its meeting on July 9 discussed about having selection trials in future before the Olympics or other major international events. The selection committee will put up a note on this matter and the executive committee will take the final call," Sumariwala said.