New Delhi: The Indian contingent will have more than 200 athletes and more than 300 people including the management and staff at Commonwealth Games 2022. With medals pouring in the last five CWGs and at Tokyo Olympics, the hopes are high this time in Birmingham.
India finished third on the medal tally in 2018, behind Australia and England, winning 66 medals on Gold Coast, Australia. India will surely look to better their tally of 2010, when the nation won 101 medals, the most by India in its history.
India’s strengths at CWG 2022
The Indian contingent will depend on Wrestling, Athletics Badminton, Table tennis and Boxing this year. In the absence of shooting and archery, India will have to give its best in the above-mentioned disciplines if they want to finish among the top medal gainers.
India has been a dominant team in wrestling, bringing 12 medals in the last games. Bajrang Punia, Rahul Aware, Sushil Kumar, Sumit malik and Vinesh Phogat won the gold medals in 2018 and will be looking to repeat their performances in 2022 too. With Bajrang Punia, Ravi Kumar Dahiya, and Sakshi Malik, the Indian wrestling contingent looks strong with these Olympic medallists.
Boxing is another disciple that is likely to fetch multiple medals. In the last games, India won 9 medals with 3 golds and was the second-best nation in the sports. With Olympic medallist, Lovlina Borgohain and world champion Nikhat Zareen, Indian women in boxing look really strong. On the other hand, the men’s contingent will have the likes of Amit Panghal and Shiva Thapa who are likely to win medals this time as well.
Badminton is another sport that can fetch India multiple medals as after the historical victory at the Thomas cup, the Indian contingent looks really strong. The contingent will be led by two-time Olympics medallist PV Sindhu who won silver last time, losing to Indian badminton legend Saina Nehwal in the finals. In the men’s singles, Kidambi Srikanth and youngster Lakshay Sen will take the lead. Also, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty look really strong as doubles pair and have a chance to go for the gold this time.
With Mirabai Chanu’s silver medal heroics at the Tokyo Olympics and a gold medal on Gold Coast, success in weightlifting is guaranteed. India topped the medal tally in the sport with 9 medals including 5 golds in 2018. The 15-member contingent is expected to bring more medals this time, and this makes weightlifting a sport to look out for.
With 8 medals, including 3 golds in 2018, the Indian table-tennis contingent has done well in past. Led by experienced campaigners Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra, who won the gold in the last CWG, the Indian team is likely to win multiple medals this time also.
Navjeet Kaur Dhillon and Seema Antil won bronze and silver in discus throw respectively in the 2018 games. With Rohit Yadav, Annu Rani, Murali Sreeshankar, Avinash Sable and Eldhose Paul reaching the finals at the World Championships, the Indian track and field contingent looks the strongest this time.
India’s national sport Hockey seems to be alive again as the men’s team won a bronze and the women’s team reached the semis for the first time at the Tokyo Olympics. Both men’s and women’s teams lost to England in the bronze medal game in 2018, but they will look to better their performance in 2022. With the women’s team finishing third in their first Pro League season, there are chances of getting two medals from Hockey in Birmingham.
What is not going India’s way?
Shooting has always been India’s top sport at the Commonwealth Games. In the last games, India won 16 medals in shooting, including 7 golds. With Manu Bhaker, Sourabh Choudhary and Abhishek Vermaa dominating the shooting circuit, it is disappointing for India that the sport is not a part of the Commonwealth Games now.
Another discipline that will not be a part of CWG in 2022 is Archery. The sport has been played in the CWG only two times, in 1982 in Brisbane and in 2010 in Delhi. India has been one of the top teams in archery in the world and could have won multiple medals in the sport.
Indian Olympic Association threatened to boycott the 2022 CWG and a different format was adopted for shooting and archery. It was decided that a Commonwealth games archery and shooting championship will be conducted in Chandigarh and the medals won there will be counted in the final tally. However, it got cancelled due to the COVID situation in India.
Interestingly, the Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly declared athletics and swimming to be the only compulsory sports in the games. At the CWG 2026, which is to be held in Australia, will not include wrestling, archery and shooting. This is a major setback for India as these were the sports India has always been strong in.
Apart from this, four Indian athletes have failed the dope test ahead of the CWG. India’s current fastest woman sprinter, S Dhanalakshmi, high and triple jumper Aishwarya Babu, para discus thrower Aneesh Kumar and para powerlifter Geeta, all have been tested positive for banned substances. This has not only hampered India’s chances at CWG 2022 but also tarnished the nation’s image at the global level. Also, India’s star athlete Neeraj Chopra will be missing the games due to an injury. This will surely affect India’s medal tally as the inclusion of Chopra guaranteed a medal.