Bindra to be the flag bearer, confusion over torch bearers names

Last Updated: Fri, Oct 01, 2010 14:20 hrs

New Delhi, Oct 1 (IANS) Even as Olympic shooting champion Abhinav Bindra was named India's flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games here on Oct 3, there was confusion as to who would be the Queen's baton bearers on the last stretch of the relay into the stadium.

Olympic bronze medallists Vijender and Sushil Kumar apart from Saina Nehwal, Melbourne Commonwealth Games stars Samresh Jung and Akhil Kumar, and five time women's world boxing champion Mary Kom are likely to carry the baton through the final stretch, though the official announcement of the names will be made in the evening, India's chef de mission Bhubaneswar Kalita said at the Games Village Friday.

But Kalita was not able to clear the picture as he kept changing the names of the baton bearers.

He added Akhil's name when asked to repeat the names.

'Akhil's name was there in the list which was sent as SMS to me before I came here. But in the list written on paper Bindra's name is there and not Akhil's,' Kalita said.

He then said the press conference has been called to announce the name of the flag bearer and not baton bearers.

'I was to announce only the name of flag bearer. The Organising Committee will take a decison on the baton bearers and give a statement later today.'

Organising Commiittee vice-chairman Randhir Singh said Bindra may not be the baton bearer as it would not be possible for one person to do both the jobs.

Kalita said original plan was that Bindra would do the honour of running the last lap of the baton relay inside the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

The Organising Commitee members, including Tarlochan Singh, who was present at the conference, drew flak from the media for not being allowed into training venues.

Earlier, the Indian flag was raised at the Games Village at a colourful ceremony with school children performing yoga and dance to enthrall the gathering. The flag was raised amid huge cheers from the athletes and officials present.

'Believe me, I always have goose bumps when I watch the Indian flag being hoisted,' an emotional swimmer Rehan Pooncha told IANS.

'This is a proud moment for all of us. For an athlete it is a moment of a lifetime when you get to participate in such a big Games at home. I am waiting for the moment when I get off the starting blocks with the crowd cheering for me,' the swimmer said.

Addressing the Indian contingent, Village mayor Dalbir Singh said: 'It is just like home away from home for all athletes. We have made all the arrangements in the sports Village, keeping in mind the needs of both foreign and domestic sportspersons. This is for the first time that all training facilities have been provided within the Games Village.'

Boxers Vijender, Akhil and Suranjoy Singh attended the ceremony while other leading Indian athletes Sania Mirza, Saina and Bindra were not present.

'Now that the flag has been hoisted in the Village, we feel proud as Indians that the Games are being held here. The Games are to celebrate India,' Kalita said

'I want the Indian athletes to give their best in front of the home crowd and I am sure that India will finish second in the medals tally.'

Randhir Singh, Indian Olympic Association senior vice preseident Vijay Kumar Malhotra were also present in the ceremony.

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