IMPORTANCE OF TABLE TENNIS FLAG BEARERS IN OLYMPICS
Olympic Games are international sports where thousands of athletes from different countries around the world participate in variety of competitions. The categories are Summer and Winter Olympics. Olympics is conducted every four years with Summer and Winter Olympics held two years apart. They have badminton, lawn tennis, swimming, table tennis and many more.
A “flag bearer” is selected in each competition to represent their country. Flag bearers are the ones who are honored to carry their national flags and march the stadium for the opening ceremony.
“One of the proudest moment for any Olympian is to be a flag bearer for their country”.
Let us look into famous Table Tennis athletes who were given this opportunity to be a flag bearer at Rio Summer Olympics 2016.
At the Rio Summer Olympics 2016, few of the table tennis athletes were lucky to chosen as a flag bearer and here is a list of them.
- Funke Oshanaike – born in Lagos, Nigeria. She has been passionate towards this sport since her childhood and used to amaze everyone whenever she used to play. In Rio 2016, preliminary round she defeated Mariana Sahakian of Lebanon. Also she has won medal at women’s table tennis championship. She was the flag bearer for Nigeria.
- Ian Lariba – born in Filipina. At the age of 9, her parents told her to learn something new and she chose “badminton”. Later she realized that badminton is not the right choice for her. So she decided to take up table tennis. One day coach of Philippine national table tennis observed her skills in table tennis while she was playing at Paralong Pambansa. Just after a year of her selection she started participating in national and international table tennis championships at a very young age. Not only was she just flag bearer for Philippines but also the “first” player to even represent Philippines in Olympics.
- Liu Jia – she is a famous Chinese table tennis player who now represents Austria. She is a professional player in a club Shian Nuntan. Even though she was invited by Japan, she flew to Austria and started playing for their team. Soon after she arrived, she became an Austrian citizen and played for Austrian table tennis team. She represented as a flag bearer for Austria.
- Yoshua Shing – born in Port Vila. He is a Vanuatan table tennis player. ITTF had initiated a program called With the Future in Mind Road to Rio. Surprisingly, Yoshua was one of the 12 potential players selected in this program by ITTF to represent Vanuatan. He is the first male table tennis player from Vanuatan to complete Olympics in 2012 London. He beacame the flag bearer for Vanuatan situated in South Pacific Ocean.
- Timo Boll – born in German is a famous German table tennis athlete. He is the only player who is chosen through votes by fans and athletes on who should carry the flag. He got coaching by his father at a very young age. One day a coach named Helmut Hampel saw his talent and entered him to a club at the age of 8. From then on he never lost any match and presently his ranking is number second in German Table Tennis League. He earned to become a flag bearer for German through his fans and athletes of Germany.