3 archers to bear flags in Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony

5 August 2016
Rio de Janeiro (BRA)
Karma, Nemati and Anwar will carry their nations’ flags in the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Defending Paralympic Champion Zahra Nemati was revealed in January to be the flag bearer for Iran then, on the day of the opening, Shehzana Anwar and Karma were announced to be joining her in having the honour of carrying their nations’ flags at the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony.

Iran's best recurve athlete, Nemati, is a reigning Paralympic Champion. The 30-year old qualified places to both the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games at the Asian Championships in November 2015.

She was the first Iranian athlete to win gold at a Games and was appointed a United Nations Ambassador for her contribution to empowering women in sport.

The only country in the world to have archery as its national sport, Bhutan has been a staple in the sport at the Olympics since 1980. In 2016, that tradition continues with Karma, a 26-year-old archer from Trashiyangste, a region in the far east of the country, who will also act as Bhutan’s Olympic flag bearer.

The Bhutanese recurve woman is one of two representing the nation at Rio 2016 with Lenchu Kunzang, another female athlete competing in the 10m Air Rifle Women shooting event.

Kenya has had two previous archery Olympians. Dominic John Rebolo competed in 2000, and both he and Jennifer Mbuta attended Atlanta in 1996. Shehzana Anwar is the reigning African Archery Champion, since winning in Windhoek early in 2016.

Part of a strong 79-strong delegation – and from a country mostly know for its long-distance runners – the Kenyan archer is honoured to have been chosen as the nation's flag bearer in Rio.

“It means everything to me. It’s so exciting. My dream was to reach here, and I did that, and now they tell me that I’m going to carry the flag for everybody,” said Shehzana. “I’m just so excited.”

 “I was expecting to be standing right behind the flag-bearers, sticking my head out. But now I’m going to be in the front. The good thing is that I’m short so everyone’s going to be seen!”

Shehzana finished 62nd on the women’s ranking round, held ahead of the Opening Ceremony in Rio.

She said the tournament was the biggest of her career, and she hoped the first of many internationals, and she’d be using the event as a learning experience, and hopefully “do much better, next time”.

At the London 2012 Olympic Games, World Archery Champion Denisse Van Lamoen carried the flag for Chile.