Rathore flag-bearer at Commonwealth Games opening

March 03, 2006 17:42 IST

Olympic silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore will be India’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony of the 18th Commonwealth Games that starts in Melbourne on March 15.

This was announced by Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi at a function to send off the first batch of competitors for the quadrennial mega event.

Long jumper Anju Bobby George carried the Indian flag at the last edition of the Games in Manchester.

The IOA is sending a 270-strong contingent to Melbourne, including 186 athletes and 43 coaches. The large batch assumes significance as New Delhi will host the next edition of the Games in 2010.

Weightlifting Federation of India president H J Dora will be the chef-de-mission.

India will participate in 10 disciplines – athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, gymnastics, men’s and women’s hockey, shooting, swimming, table tennis and weightlifting.

Expressing hope that the Indian contingent would come up with a bagful of medals, the IOA chief said athletics, badminton, boxing, hockey, shooting, table tennis and weightlifting are disciplines where Indians are expected to do well.

The contingent also includes 12 elite athletes with disabilities (EADs) who will represent the country in athletics, swimming and powerlifting.

India returned from Manchester with 69 medals – 30 gold, 22 silver and 17 bronze. But as the number of medals in weightlifting, in which India bagged 27, has been cut to one-third, it would be a tough challenge to repeat the large haul.

However, Kalmadi warned the Indian contingent that not a single positive dope test would be tolerated.

“We hope that none of our competitors would be caught for doping as it brings a bad name to the country,” he said.

The competitors will leave for Melbourne in batches with some of them participating at other meets before reaching Australia.

“The badminton team has already left for Jakarta for a training stint and would reach Melbourne on March 11. The swimmers will go to Singapore for the Asian championship before reaching the venue on March 10,” Kalmadi said.

The women’s hockey team will leave n Saturday, followed by their male counterparts a day later. The table tennis, basketball and shooting teams will leave on the March 6 followed by the gymnasts a day later.

The athletes, boxers and weightlifters will leave for Melbourne on March 9, Kalmadi said.

“Our whole team would be present at the opening ceremony on March 15, except those who would be competing the next day and would need rest,” he added.