Rajyavardhan Rathore named flagbearer for Commonwealth Games
New Delhi, Mar 3 (UNI) Silver medallist at the Athens Olympics, ace marksman Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was today named as the flagbearer of a huge 270-member Indian contingent in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
President of Indian Weightlifting Federation H J Dora was named chef-de-mission of the contingent which includes 103 male and 83 female athletes, 43 coaches, 15 managers, 16 medical staff, three Elite Athletes with Disabilities and seven administrative staff.
Addressing reporters during the send-off ceremony here, President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Suresh Kalmadi said India would take part in 10 disciplines and said he was banking on the athletes, shuttlers, pugilists, shooters, paddlers and lifters to reap a reach harvest in Melbourne.
''Our shooters won us 24 medals last time and with Rathore as the flagbearer, we hope them to do even better this time,'' he said.
Mr Kalmadi also expressed a sublime show from the lifters.
''This time, there won't be any medals on snatch and jerk and instead, only the total would count. Last time our lifters fetched 27 medals but this time, we are going to have less. Still, I'm expecting 10 medals from them,'' he said.
'We won 69 medals in the previous edition of the Games in Manchester and hope to better our fourth position in the overall medal tally this time,'' he added.
He also expressed hopes that the country's image won't be tarnished by incidents of doping.
''We have collected individual letters from the athletes and we would be harsh on the offenders,'' he warned.
Meanwhile, elated after being accorded the flagbearer's honour, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said the shooters would put up their best show in Melbourne.
''We have a brilliant preparation and personally I'm in the best shape of my career. Agreed, the competition would exclude shooters from America or Germany but it's going to be tough and you can't rule out the weather factor as well.'' ''There will be shooters from Australia and England to make our life difficult but we are ready to give it our best shot,'' he said.
Chef-de-mission Mr Dora said the athletes were raring to go after the camps in Patiala and Bangalore.
''They are in fine nick and I hope we can better our Manchester medal tally in Melbourne,'' he said.
Australian High Commissioner John McCarthy wished luck to the Indian team.
''I wish you beat the athletes from Britain and Canada but pray it's Australia which ends up on top of the table,'' he quipped.
Star long-jumper Anju Bobby George, members of the men and women hockey team and a number of sports administrators were also present on the occasion.
UNI AY PDS RN1455