Gold Coast, April 3 (IANS) With a massive 222-member contingent, India will aim to showcase its status as a rising sports power with an expected rich medal haul when the 21st Commonwealth Games begin here on Wednesday.
India had collected 64 medals (15 gold, 30 silver, 19 bronze) in the previous CWG held in Glasgow and the country will expect to better that performance at Gold Coast. Getting 101 medals in the New Delhi remains a tipping point for India in the CWG but since that took place at home, that mark will be lofty for the Indian contingent.
The bulk of India’s medals in the past editions of the CWG have come from shooters, wrestlers, weightlifters and boxers and this time competitors under these four disciplines will look to continue their impressive record.
After them, disciplines like squash, badminton and athletics will look to get to the top of the podium. Moreover, surprising performances in gymnastics and cycling are also expected.
In shooting, India got 17 medals at Glasgow. In Gold Coast, India has a 27-member shooting team and several of the members are World Cup medallists. Some of the high profile and in-form shooters are Jitu Rai (50m pistol), Ravi Kumar (10m air rifle), Olympic 2012 medallist Gagan Narang (50m rifle prone), Anish Bhanwala (25m rapid fire pistol), Heena Sidhu, Manu Bhaker (both 10m air pistol), Mehuli Ghosh, Apurvi Chandela (both 10m air rifle), Anjum Moudgil, Tejaswini Sawant (both 50m rifle 3positions) and Shreyasi Singh (double trap).
In weightlifting, high expectations are from reigning world champion S. Mirabai Chanu (-48kg) and Satish Shivalingam (-77kg). Apart from the duo, medal hopefuls are K. Sanchita Chanu (-53kg), Deepak Lather (-69kg), Saraswati Rout (-58kg), Punam Yadav (-69kg).
Further lining up the medals are wrestlers, spearheaded by two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar (-74kg) and 2016 Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik (-62kg). India has a powerful wrestling team and other key grapplers include Bajrang Punia (-65kg), Rahul Aware (-57kg), Mausam Khatri (-97kg), Babita Kumari (-53kg), Pooja Dhanda (-57kg) and Vinesh Phogat (-50kg).
Among the boxers, Manoj Kumar (69kg), Vikas Krishan (75kg), Satish Kumar (+91kg), Gaurav Solanki (52kg), five-time world champion M.C. Mary Kom (48kg), Pinki Rani (51kg), L. Sarita Devi (60kg) and Lovlina Borgoahin (69kg). For Mary Kom and Sarita, this will be their last CWG campaign and they will look to end it on a high.
In athletics, among the 28 competitors, star javelin thrower and Asian champion Neeraj Chopra and 2014 Games’ silver medal-winning discus thrower Seema Punia have proved to be counted as confident medal hopefuls. Three-time CWG medal-winning discus thrower Seema Antil will need to again prove that she still has the hunger and power to earn India a medal here. M.R. Poovamma, Jauna Murmu and Hima Das and Sonia Baishya — part of 4X400m relay team — will need to pull of their very best to get a place on the podium.
India also has high hopes from the badminton team, which includes Olympic medallists Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu. In the men’s singles, Kidambi Srikanth and H.S. Prannoy are also medal prospects. In the mixed team event, India had failed in Glasgow and this time, riding on the singles superstars, India will aim for a podium finish.
India’s men’s hockey team won two silver medals in the past two CWGs, losing to Australia in the finals, and this time, the reigning Asian champions will aim to bag the yellow metal. The women’s team which competed in the 2010 and 2014 without medals, will have a strong chance to finish on the podium.
In squash, expectations will be high on Joshana Chinappa, Dipika Pallikal Karthik, Saurav Ghosal and Harinder Pal Sandhu. Dipika and Joshana will look to defend their doubles title.
In table tennis, Achanta Sharath Kamala will lead the Indian campaign. This Indian squad has already been hit by the ban on Soumyajit Ghosh, who is facing allegations of rape in Bengal. Harmeet Desai, Sanil Shetty, G. Sathiyan, Manika Batra, Mouma Das and Pooja Sahasreebudhe will compete in the singles, doubles and the team events.
In cycling, the pairing of Deborah Herold and Allena Reji is expected to bring a medal in the women’s time trial.
In gymnastics, India has shown in the past few years that it can throw surprises in the big events like Dipa Karmakar in the Olympics and Aruna Budda Reddy in World Cup 2018. Though Dipa won’t be at the Gold Coast due to a knee injury, Aruna will aim to continue her rise to fame which started since the day she won a medal at the World Cup. 2010 surprising medallist Ashish Kumar is also there but in recent times, he has faded away and needs to rise to the occassion in his bid to get a medal here.