No clear flag-bearer?
A potentially embarrassing situation stares India in the face as rifle shooter Gagan Narang --- chosen as the flag-bearer by the Indian Olympic Association for the Asian Games --- might have to be replaced by a suitable candidate for the opening ceremony on November 12.india Updated: Nov 11, 2010 00:22 IST
A potentially embarrassing situation stares India in the face as rifle shooter Gagan Narang --- chosen as the flag-bearer by the Indian Olympic Association for the Asian Games --- might have to be replaced by a suitable candidate for the opening ceremony on November 12.
Narang is competing in his favourite event, the 10m air rifle, on November 13 barely eight hours after the opening ceremony and national coach Sunny Thomas said, if the world record holder were to be present for the entire duration of the opening ceremony (expected to be around 5 hours) it would put a lot of stress on the champion marksman and also dent India's chances of winning a potential gold at the Games.
"I was not consulted (by the IOA) when they announced the name of the flag-bearer. But spending 5-6 hours during the opening ceremony will definitely affect Gagan's performance. We can have an arrangement where Gagan appears for just an hour and leaves. But I doubt that can happen. I will speak to the chef de mission (Abhay Chautala) and see what arrangement can be worked. If they (the IOA and the Guangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee) agree to this arrangement, it's fine. Otherwise we will have to look for a suitable candidate to replace Gagan," said Thomas.
By that yardstick, even Beijing Olympic Games gold-medallist and world champion, Abhinav Bindra, who was the flag-bearer during the Commonwealth Games last month will not be able to replace Gagan, as he too is competing on the next day in 10m air rifle and India's team medal chances hinge on the two shooters. "During the Commonwealth Games too, I gave Gagan permission to leave midway to relax," said Thomas. But that was Delhi and this is Guangzhou.
Deputy chef de mission, Ravi Kant, told HT that a meeting to discuss the issue was scheduled at 8:30 p.m. (6:00 p.m. IST). "Definitely it is a big issue. We do not want to compromise on the medals front. So, the event will take precedence over the opening ceremony," said Kant, adding, they had not zeroed in on a replacement as yet.
It's strange, indeed thoughtless, for the IOA to choose Narang as the flag-bearer despite knowing the schedule.
Randhir doffs hat at preparations
The IOA secretary-general, Randhir Singh, on Wednesday indirectly conceded that the the Guangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (GAGOC) had done better than the CWG OC. "We had problems (in Delhi), which has not been the case in Guangzhou," he said. “In Delhi, we had 17 sports to the 42 here. There were many delays in infrastructure in Delhi, so test events got delayed. There had been internal problems but we managed to hold a good Games.”