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London 2012 Photo Story: Badminton takes centre stage at Opening Ceremony

On the eve of the opening day of badminton at the London 2012 Olympic Games, the sport starred in the Opening Ceremony in which three badminton players were proud flag bearers for their countries.

Here is a photo story:

Spotted! In the countryside scene of the London 2012 Olympic Games' Opening Ceremony, which was a spectacular showcase of Great Britain's history, badminton was among three traditional British sports on display along with football and cricket.

Three badminton players were flag bearers for their countries - Petr Koukal of the Czech Republic, Niluka Karunaratne of Sri Lanka and Mohamed Ajfan Rasheed of the Maldives. 

Czech Republic's Petr Koukal - a cancer survivor - was the first badminton player out of the tunnel as countries were introduced in alphabetical order. Koukal: "The ceremony was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As I was walking out of the tunnel all the memories of the past few years came flooding back. I got very emotional. I was planning to go home straight after the flag but I just had to stay and watch the flame being lit."

The next badminton flag bearer was Mohamed Ajfan Rasheed of the Maldives. Playing in the Men's Singles competition, Rasheed is also one of two IOC tripartite badminton players at London 2012.

Finally it was Sri Lanka's Niluka Karunaratne's turn to take the stage. He flashed a bright smile as he paraded around the track. The 27-year-old from Galle is from a badminton family. His father is a coach and his three younger brothers are also players.

Light up, light up! The Games have begun. The London 2012 badminton competition will run from 28 July to 5 August at Wembley Arena.

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