In what will be proud moment for the country, a 16-year-old sports star from Haryana, Manu Bhaker has been declared India's flag-bearer in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) scheduled to take place in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina from October 6 to October 18.
Manu Bhaker, who is the one of the country's hot medal prospects at the upcoming games, will be leading the Indian contingent which comprises of 68 members of which 46 are athletes. India will be competing against the teams from around the world in 13 different sports categories.
This is the largest number of participants from the Indian contingent ever at the Games, consisting of 18 people in hockey (9 players each of men and women team), 4 in shooting, 4 in recurve archery, 2 in wrestling, 2 in badminton and 2 in swimming, among others.
As reported, on her selection as the flag-bearer, Manu said that she is greatly honoured to get this opportunity. She had never expected to be the flag-bearer and represent India at such a large scale.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President, Mr Narinder Batra announced Bhaker's appointment during the send-off ceremony and said that he is extremely happy to send such diligent athletes to the games and is sure that they will make the country proud by winning laurels at the International event. The ceremony was also attended by Sports Minister, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and IOA Secretary General, Rajeev Mehta.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who is himself a Khel Ratna awardee, said, "Gone are the days when Indians participated in big multi-sport events just for the sake of participation. I know you all will give your best and bring medals for the country. Stay focused, be disciplined as you are ambassadors of the country. No one should do anything which can tarnish the image of the country. I wish you all, all the best."
IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta said, "Youth Olympics is a good platform for athletes to familiarise with the Olympic values and the Olympic Games environment at an earlier stage. I urge our young team to see the Games as a medium for sporting and cultural exchange whilst giving their best performances."
Manu Bhaker is a shooter hailing from Haryana. The Indian shooter has represented the country at numerous International Sports events. She rose to prominence after winning her first medal at the 2017 Asian Junior Championship. Continuing her exploits, she won 9 gold medals at the 2017 Kerala national Games, with the highlight of her outing being defeating World Cup medallist Heena Sidhu.
In what was a historic outing for the young shooter at the ISSF World Cup held in Mexico, she claimed a podium finish in the 10 m air pistol, consequently becoming the youngest Indian ever to win a gold medal at the World Cup.
At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which were held at Gold Coast, Australia, Manu Bhaker made India proud by winning the gold in women's 10 m air pistol at an age of 16. She scored 388/400 points in the qualifying round and secured a gold by setting a new record at the CWG of 240.9 points.
Bhaker is also an expert in Huyen Ianglon - a traditional form of Martial arts from Manipur. She has also won many laurels in boxing, tennis and skating at the national level besides being an international level shooter.
(With Inputs from PTI)