The Commonwealth Games (CWG) always has been a happy hunting ground for India. With medals being a rarity for the country at bigger stages like the Asian Games and the Olympics, the CWG have assured India numerous medals every four years. Just to put numbers into perspective, in the past five editions of the Commonwealth Games, the Indian contingent has bagged a total of 309 medals. They are fourth in this tally after Australia, England, and Canada.
In less than a month’s time, 225 athletes across 18 disciplines will go head to head with some of the best in the world. Having won 101 medals at home in the 2010 Games, India would look to replicate a similar performance at the Gold Coast City of Queensland, Australia and hope for another great haul.
In the past five editions of the Games over the course of 20 years, the success rate in sports like Shooting, Weightlifting, Wrestling, Boxing, and Athletics has been the highest.
Will the Indian athletes live up to the expectations or will they set the bar higher? Or, will they disappoint a nation of 1.25 billion people? At this point, it is only appropriate for us to have a closer look at our medal prospects and teams, and players to watch out for.
Shooting at Commonwealth Games 2018 – India has a good mix of Veterans, World Champs and Talented newcomers
Who can ever forget Abhinav Bindra’s Olympic Gold Medal in 2008? He won India’s first individual gold medal at the biggest stage of all, and the images of his celebration are still fresh in every Indian’s mind. Even at the Commonwealth Games, our shooters have done us proud. With 48 Golds over the past 20 years and five editions, our shoots have always had a good outing.
JITU RAI AND HEENA SIDHU:
This year too, Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu, who will be leading the shooting contingent at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, would look to eye for even better results. Two of the best shooters in the country have been in excellent form lately. Just last year, the Nepali origin shooter bagged Gold in the 10m air pistol mixed team event with Heena Sidhu at the World Cup in New Delhi. At the 2017 Commonwealth Championships in Brisbane, Rai bagged the gold medal in both, men’s 10m air pistol and 50 m pistol events. Besides international championships, Rai has also maintained an impressive CWG record. In the previous edition that took place in Glasgow (2014), he bagged the gold medal in the men’s 10m air pistol event.
Arjuna Awardee Heena Sidhu has also been in sublime form. In 2017 at the Commonwealth shooting championships in Brisbane, Sidhu won Gold in women’s 10m air pistol event. The 28-year-old would look to overcome her 2014 Commonwealth Games disappointment this year by bagging a medal for the country. She had finished 7th in 2014.
VETERAN GAGAN NARANG:
When we talk about shooting, how can we forget legendary Gagan Narang? The 34-year-old veteran’s experience will not only inspire the entire 27-member shooting squad, but also makes him one of the strongest contenders fetch a medal in the 50-meter rifle prone event. He ran riot at the 2006 and 2010 Games where he bagged four gold medals each. In 2014, he won one silver and one bronze. Considering his impressive CWG track-record, expectations from Narang are incredibly high, and the onus is on him to deliver the goods.
MITTAL AND CHANDELA:
India’s dark horses, though, comprise of Ankur Mittal and Apurvi Chandela. Not known to many, the two shooters have tasted considerable success in the international arena. Ankur’s best performance, so far, came at the 2017 World Championships where he bagged gold in the men’s double trap event. In the same category in 2014, Ankur finished as the semifinalist.
On the hand, the 25-year-old Apurvi Chandela bagged gold in Women’s 10-meter air rifle event at CWG 2014. Besides 2014, she bagged bronze in Women’s 10-meter air rifle at ISSF (International Shooting Sports Federation) World Cup in 2015. In the same year, she clinched the silver medal in the same category at the ISSF World Cup Finals.
The reputation of the Indian shooters will again be at stake at Gold Coast 2018. Yet another year and yet another edition of the Games, they will be put to a tougher and more challenging test. Just like they did in the past, they are expected to emerge triumphant this year as well.
Wrestling at Commonwealth Games 2018 – How will our strong men and women perform?
The sport of wrestling has picked up popularity in the country ever since the inception of the Pro-Wrestling League(PWL). Big names, big franchises, and big money has attracted thousands of people to the stadiums, and its viewership has only risen over the three editions. Such tournaments prove to be the best platform for hidden talent to come out and shine. As expected, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has picked a few star performers from the league for the Commonwealth Games 2018 squad. Besides the freshmen, there have been few names from India who have established their names in the international arena and broken several records. Wondering who these names are? Let’s find out.
INJURY PRONE DUTT EYES A HISTORIC COMEBACK
Of course, we have to start with one of the most well-known and successful wrestlers of the country. Padma Shri awardee Yogeshwar Dutt is back on the mat after suffering from a shoulder injury that kept him out of the sport for several months. Fitter and stronger than ever, Dutt will look to repeat his 2014 CWG performance where he bagged the gold medal in the men’s 65 kg freestyle category. He had defeated Canada’s Jevon Balfour 10-0 in the finals. Gold medal at the Commonwealth Games was not the first for the 34-year-old wrestler from Haryana as he had bagged gold in the 2010 edition as well. Despite being sidelined due to several injuries in the past couple of years, Yogeshwar Dutt is expected to make an emphatic comeback and clinch another medal at Gold Coast 2018.
SURROUNDED BY CONTROVERSIES, SUSHIL KUMAR NOW FOCUSSED ON THE GAMES:
Another famous Indian wrestler returning to the mat is the silver medallist from the 2012 London Olympics, Sushil Kumar. After a hiatus of three years due to several injuries, Suhil has already participated in three events since December 2017. The build-up to the Commonwealth Games has been a bumpy ride for Sushil as he has also been surrounded by controversies at the same time.
However, now on national duty, Kumar would look to add more medals to his cabinet at the 2018 CWG. Besides winning the silver in 2012, he has consistently performed well in CWG. He clinched gold in 2010 in the 66kg freestyle category, and he also won gold at the 2014 Glasgow Games in 74 kg freestyle category. It would be interesting to see whether his comeback would be a successful one or whether the pressure will get the better of him.
THE PHOGAT SISTERS:
Youngest of the lot, Vinesh Phogat would eye a repeat of her 2014 Glasgow Games performance, where she clinched Gold in the 50kg freestyle category. The same year, she bagged the bronze medal at the Incheon Asian Games.
Geeta Phogat, the eldest sister, participates in the 55kg freestyle category. She scripted at the 2010 Commonwealth Games by winning India’s first ever gold medal in wrestling. Moreover, she is also the first female wrestler from India to have qualified for the Summer Olympics. She also won Bronze at the 2012 World Championships.
The third sister, Babita Kumari, won Gold at the 2014 Glasgow Games in the 55kg freestyle category. In the previous edition to 2014, she had won Silver in the 51kg freestyle event.
All the three sisters have maintained an excellent track record at the Commonwealth Games. They will be carrying the responsibility on their shoulders to fetch more medals, preferably gold, at this year’s Commonwealth Games.
There’s another wrestler who’s made the country proud in the previous edition of the Games. Not known to many, Amit Kumar Dahiya, a 24-year-old wrestler from Haryana, won the gold medal in the 57kg freestyle category. He has also won gold in the 2013 Asian Championships that took place in New Delhi.
We would not have heard of Pooja Dhanda is she had not opted out of Judo to enter the world of wrestling. The 24-year-old will be making her CWG this year at Gold Coast. She may be new to this particular event, but she’s no amateur in the wrestling world. A bronze medallist at the 2014 Asian Wrestling Championships, Pooja would be eyeing the elusive gold at Gold Coast 2018 as well. Definitely the one to watch out for.
Without a shadow of a doubt, our wrestlers are bound to bring glory back home this year as well. It will be interesting to see whether they can live up to the expectations of the nation.
Boxing at Commonwealth Games 2018
VETERAN MARY KOM:
What’s the first name that pops up in your head when you hear the word “boxing”? Vikas Krishnan? Seema Punia? Amit Panghal? L. Sarita Devi? Most probably none of the mentioned names.
For most Indians, that name is MC Mary Kom. And why wouldn’t it? The only woman who’s won a gold medal in all of the six world championships and the five-time World Amateur Boxing champion has taken Indian Boxing to new heights. She has taken the sport to places where no Indian would have ever imagined Boxing to reach. Besides this, Mary Kom clinched Gold in the 2014 Asian Games and became the first Indian woman boxer to do so. Her cabinet, however, still lacks a CWG medal. She would definitely look to bring her impressive form from the recently concluded Strandja Memorial Tournament games to this year’s Commonwealth Games where the veteran boxer bagged silver.
BOXER OF THE TOURNAMENT VIKAS KRISHAN:
Not just Mary Kom, but Arjuna Award winner Vikas Krishan scripted history at Strandja Memorial by claiming the gold medal in the 75 kg category. This victory ended his medal drought as it was his first after winning the bronze at the 2017 Asian Championships. Moreover, he was adjudged the best boxer of the tournament and became the first Indian to earn the honor.
SEEMA PUNIA AND SARITA DEVI ADD TO THE GLORY IN BULGARIA:
Seema Punia also won silver at the recently concluded Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria. She stood second in the +81kg category. Sarita Devi and Meena Kumari Devi were among the medals as well. They clinched bronze 60kg and 54kg category respectively. Saweety Boora (75kg) and Bhagyabati Kachari (81kg) bagged a bronze medal each as well at the tournament. The bronze-medallists among the men were Mohammed Hussamuddin (56kg), and Satish Kumar (+91kg).
The Indian boxers sure have been in superb form and numerous victories at a tournament one month before the all-important tournament would do a world of good to their confidence and morale.
Commonwealth Games 2018: KreedOn Opines
We, at KreedOn, along with the rest of the country, hope that India would go one step further at this year’s Commonwealth Games to better their best performance thus far which came way back at home in 2010. The onus is on the athletes to live up to the expectations where the stakes are high, and pressure is nerve-wracking.
With this, we come to the end of part 1 of our take on India’s medal contenders for Commonwealth Games 2018. The second part soon to follow.