Doha: Leading India out at the opening ceremony is the biggest honour for a sportsperson. At the Doha Asian Games the honour has gone to Jyoti Sunita Kullu who works in the railways coach factory in Kapurthala.
Jyoti Sunita Kullu, 28, is the captain of the Indian women's hockey team. And yet after 11 years on the international scene she remains an unknown entity.
She is undoubtedly very excited at the prospects of carrying the Indian flag at the opening ceremony
"Haan ye mere liye bahut bada achievement hai. Arjuna Award se bhi bada achievement hai kyonki abhi tak mujhe koi award nahi mila hai. To yeh to mere liye bahut bada achievement hai (This is my biggest achievement, even bigger than the Arjuna Awards. I have still not got the Arjuna Awards)," Jyoti says.
Jyoti follows in the footsteps of icons like Dhanraj Pillay, Anju Bobby George and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore who have been Indian flagbearers.
Jyoti has been Indian women's hockey's torchbearer for many years and was the top scorer at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and the Champions Challenge tournament.
She also led the team at the World Cup earlier in the year.
However, the lack of recognition does hurt her.
"Haan isme dukh ki hi baat hai kyonki mein 1995 se abhi tak continous khel rahi hoon. Aisa nahi ki mera performance kharab hai, performance bhi acchha hai. Phir bhi abhi tak mere ko koi award nahi mila (I have been playing for the country since 1995. My performances, too, have been good but still I have not received any awards)," she adds.
It's always the high profile sportspersons who have carried the Indian flag at the opening ceremony of multi-discipline events.
But in selecting Jyoti Sunita Kullu as the flag bearer of the Indian contingent at the Doha Asian Games the IOA has finally rewarded someone who has toiled for 11 years in international sports without any recognition.