Ontario, Sep 20 (IANS) Indian-origin Ken Pereira, Canada's hockey team captain, will carry the national flag at the opening ceremony of the Oct 3-14 New Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Born in Toronto of Indian parents, Pereira's international sporting career is remarkable. In over 16 years as a member of Canada's national field hockey team, he has earned more than 300 caps, achieving that milestone at this year's hockey World Cup in New Delhi February-March.
It will surely be an emotional evening for Pereira when he leads the 255-member strong Canadian contingent at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
Pereira, who is the first Indo-Canadian and the first field hockey player to receive the honour, said the fact that these Games are being hosted in India makes it special.
"It's especially sweet because it's the birthplace of my parents. We still have a lot of family over there and I'm sure they'll come out and support the Canadian team."
Pereira said initially he "couldn't believe" his ears when informed that he had been selected by Commonwealth Games Canada as the flag bearer.
"I thought they'd called the wrong number. We have so many great athletes on the Canadian team that it's a very special honour to be selected to represent them all. I literally have goose bumps every time I think about walking into the main stadium in Delhi carrying the maple leaf."
Pereira, who will be the first team sport athlete to become the Canadian flag bearer for the Commonwealth Games, is widely considered one of the best midfielders in the game and plays professionally in Holland in the world's top league.
"Ken Pereira is an inspired choice as flag bearer for so many reasons," said Canada's Chef de Mission, Martha Deacon.
"Think about what he's accomplished - three previous Commonwealth Games, two Olympic Games, four Pan Am Games, and two World Cups. He's highly respected both on and off the pitch and his leadership qualities are unquestioned. We're so proud that Ken will be carrying the Canadian flag into the Opening ceremony in Delhi on October 3," Deacon said.
Hockey Canada president, Mary Cicinelli said: "Ken embodies all of the elements it takes to be a top international athlete: commitment, dedication and passion for his sport."
"He is a role model for young Canadian athletes and we are immensely proud of his success, on and off the playing field."
Pereira's previous Commonwealth Games experience includes Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1998), Manchester, England (2002), and Melbourne, Australia (2006).
Canada has been grouped with South Africa, England, Trinidad and Tobago, and New Zealand in the pool round.