A small number of Indian athletes who turned up for the Asian Games opening ceremony here at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium made the most of their ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience of representing their nation at the continental showpiece.
With Sunday being an action-packed official start to the Games, several athletes opted to skip the curtain-raiser, while several others are yet to reach the city. When India’s name was read out during the delegation march, a few cheers among the locals were quickly drained out, highlighting the strained relations between the two neighbouring nations.
The cold reception, however, didn’t dampen the Indian athletes’ evening.
“Walking on the carpet when they called out our name felt magical. My brain couldn’t comprehend it. I was so overwhelmed,” said swimmer Likith Selvaraj Prema.
Tokyo Olympic medallists Harmanpreet Singh and Lovlina Borgohain led the group as the flagbearers.
“This is a proud moment for me [to be the flag bearer]. I wish all the best to all our Indian athletes,” said the hockey men’s team captain Harmanpreet. “This honour comes with a lot of responsibility. We will do our best to bring as many gold medals as possible,” said boxer Borgohain.
For trap shooter Rajeshwari Kumari, daughter of Olympic Council of Asia’s acting president Randhir Singh, it was a doubly special moment, while being present with her father at the venue.
“I have been dreaming of walking out for the opening ceremony since I was a child. And being here with my father is even better. I could record his speech as an athlete. It was a really proud moment for me,” Rajeshwari said.
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