Hockey captain says being India’s flagbearer at Incheon will spur him and teammates to win first place at quadrennial event
New Delhi: The honour to carry India’s flag in the opening ceremony of 17th Asian Games couldn’t have come at a better time for hockey team skipper Sardar Singh, who feels it will not only spur him but the entire squad to break its 16-year gold jinx in the continental event.
Sardar Singh in action during a 2012 Championship Trophy match
Sardar was yesterday named as the flagbearer of Indian contingent for today’s opening ceremony in Incheon, and the star midfielder said he is already getting goosebumps.
“It is definitely a big moment for me. It is a big honour to lead the nation in the opening ceremony of a mutltisport event like the Asian Games. Tomorrow will definitely be one of the best moments of my career. I am already getting goosebumps,” Sardar told PTI from the South Korean city.
Asked if the responsibility would bring added pressure on him, Sardar said: “I don’t think there will be any added pressure because it is a off-field activity. But it will definitely motivate me and the my teammates to give our best on the field. “Our mission is to win the gold here and that is what we aspire from this event. We are determined to come back with gold,” he said.
India last won a gold in the mega-event in the Bangkok Games in 1998.
Placed in Pool B alongside arch-foe Pakistan, the Indian men’s team will open its campaign against Sri Lanka on Pool B match on September 21.
Sardar said the team is well prepared for the task at hand and raring to take the turf on Sunday. “Our preparation is going on very well. We defeated Japan in a practice game today,” he said.
“We have worked on the mistakes which we committed in the Commonwealth Games and have devised strategies to counter those areas.”
Sardar said having arrived in Incheon much earlier, they have managed to get a feel of the conditions there. “We came here well in advance and it worked in our favour because we have become familiar with the weather and turf here,” the skipper said.
Statistical view of the Asian Games...
No of medals India secured in chess, cue sports and roller sports in 2010 — sports that have been axed in Incheon
No of medals (all bronze) India clinched in wrestling at the Guangzhou Asiad four years ago
Athletes from India competing at the 17th Asian Games which start today at Incheon. The Indian contingent consists of 679 members
The total medals scooped by the Indian contingent at the 2010 Asiad — comprising 14 gold, 17 silver and 34 bronze
India’s position on the Guangzhou Asiad medals table, our second best after the fifth spot at New Delhi ’82
The number of disciplines Indian athletes will be competing in at Incheon. India’s best bets for golds will be shooting, boxing, wrestling, kabaddi and athletics
The medal target set by Sports Authority of India (SAI) from the Incheon Asian Games
No of medals India’s boxers won (two gold, three silver and four bronze) in the previous edition of the Asiad
No of medals Abhinav Bindra has won at the Asian Games. The shooter, who has won Olympic, World and Commonwealth Games titles, is participating in his last Asiad this time around
No of medals Indian athletes secured in Glasgow at the recent Commonwealth Games
No of gold medals Indian athletes secured at Glasgow. However, the Asian Games will offer a far sterner test