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Mystery woman who marched with Indian Olympians identified as MBA student

A woman walks with the Indian team at the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics on July 27, 2012.

Mark Humphrey/AP

She was thrilled to be part of the London Olympics' opening ceremony and on her Facebook page, where she called herself Madhura Honey, she even displayed her special pass to the event.

Within 48 hours, having triggered an international uproar, "Madhura Honey" had deactivated her Facebook account and her parents were reported to have gone out of sight after being tracked down by journalists.

The mystery woman who made headlines when she joined the front of the Indian delegation as it marched out for the opening ceremonies Friday night has been identified as Madhura Nagendra, an Indian woman in her mid-20s studying for an MBA in London.

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She was part of the opening ceremonies cast and her family said she had been assigned to walk alongside the Indian contingent. Organizers however said she was just an over-excited interloper.

Deccan Chronicle, the newspaper in Hyderabad which first identified her after a schoolmate recognized Ms. Nagendra on television, said her parents have left their residence in the southern city of Bangalore to escape the media scrutiny.

"My daughter has done nothing wrong and she has not broken any rule. She was a part of the opening ceremony as a dancer. She was later asked by someone in the organising committee to be a part of the Indian march past," her father, K.L. Nagendra, a leather garment businessman, initially told reporters.

Ms. Nagendra has also "practically gone underground after she made news," a friend told the paper. She did not reply to a request for comments e-mailed by the Globe and Mail.

On her account on the Google+ networking site, Ms. Nagendra wrote that she had a degree in communications from Bangalore's Christ University and had worked for an Indian subsidiary of the Boston-based IT firm Keane Inc.

She had been in Britain for a year, studying at the London School of Business and Finance.

"I am basically a very bouncy, lively, cheerful, confident, talented and an amiable juvinile lass (sic)," she wrote.

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She also said she was "really, really mad" about dancing and music, which perhaps explained how she became one of the 10,000 performers at the ceremonies.

What wasn't part of the script was her appearance, alongside India's flag bearer, wrestler Sushil Kumar.

Dressed in a red jacket and turquoise trousers, she stood out from the rest of the delegation which wore yellow turbans and saris.

She "clearly got slightly over excited," said Sebastian Coe, chairman of the organizing committee. "She shouldn't have been there."

He added that Ms. Nagendra was not a security risk because she had already been screened.

Nevertheless, the Indian delegation was furious that someone hogged the limelight.

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Games organizers have sent a letter apologizing for the incident, according to an anonymous source quoted Monday by the Times of India.

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About the Author
National reporter

Tu Thanh Ha is based in Toronto and writes frequently about judicial, political and security issues. He spent 12 years as a correspondent for the Globe and Mail in Montreal, reporting on Quebec politics, organized crime, terror suspects, space flights and native issues. More


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