After having achieved their best-ever performance at Olympic Games in Tokyo last year, India will be geared up to put their best foot forward at the Commonwealth Games, starting July 28 in Birmingham.
With the Asian Games postponed to 2023, India’s top sporting heroes will be in Birmingham, trying their best to win the country laurels. India won as many as 66 medals, including 26 gold medals, to finish 3rd in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia — which was also their second-best showing at the Games since India won 101 medals at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010.
However, with shooting removed from the list of sports for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, India’s medal tally is likely to take a beating. Notably, India have 135 medals out of 503 won across all editions of CWG in shooting.
Nonetheless, all eyes will be on India’s rising heroes as the country looks to make a mark in Birmingham in the next few days. IndiaToday.in takes a look at the county’s biggest medal prospects for CWG 2022 in Birmingham.
Neeraj Chopra is India’s biggest gold medal hope at CWG 2022 (Photo Courtesy: Instagram)
India’s biggest gold medal hope for the Commonwealth Games is undoubtedly the Tokyo Olympics hero Neeraj Chopra. The javelin throw star has been warming up to the Games in Birmingham by breaking his own national records at will. He will be keen on retaining the gold medal that he won in 2018.
The Haryana athlete broke his own national record at the Diamond League in Stockholm in June as he registered a personal best throw of 89.94m. The Tokyo Olympic gold medalist missed the 90m mark by a whisker but he will be pushing himself to finish on the top step of the podium.
Neeraj, who will compete at the Athletics World Championships before he heads to Birmingham, will face a stiff test from reigning world champion Anderson Peters. who has a season-best throw of 93.07m. Notably, Peters finished ahead of Neeraj in the Stockholm Diamond League with another 90-plus throw.
Peters had finished with the bronze in the 2018 CWG with a throw of 82.20m while Neeraj took gold with a throw of 86.47m.
PV Sindhu looks to win her maiden Commonwealth Games gold medal (AP Photo)
India’s badminton stars will be hoping to make merry at the Commonwealth Games. After the men’s team’s success in Thomas Cup, the Asian giants will be looking to defend the mixed team gold medal that they won in 2018.
India won’t have the 2018 women’s singles gold medalist Saina Nehwal but the focus will be on PV Sindhu, who is looking to win her 3rd straight CWG medal after a bronze in 2014 and silver in 2018.
Sindhu, unlike on the tour, will not face stiff tests but she will keep an eye on the likes of Kirsty Gilmour and Michelle Li.
Kidambi Srikanth, Lakshya Sen and HS Prannoy will be looking to make the most of their recent form at CWG but they will face stiff tests from Loh Kean Yew and Lee Zii Jia in the men’s singles field.
The doubles pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are also in contention to win a gold medal in Birmingham.
India are one of the most successful nations when it comes to weightlifting at the Commonwealth Games with 125 medals in the history of the Games.
Indian weightlifters reigned supreme in the 2018 Gold Coast Games, bringing home a rich haul of nine medals including five golds. With 15 weightlifters heading to Birmingham, India will be hoping for another successful showing from the contingent.
Mirabai Chanu is almost a certainty to win a gold medal in Birmingham, which will be her 3rd CWG medal.
Mirabai’s personal best in the women’s 49kg stands at 207kg (88kg snatch and 119kg clean and jerk). Her nearest rival, Nigeria’s Stella Kingsley’s best effort to date is 168kg (72kg and 96kg) and thus legal lifts is all that Mirabai needs.
The Indian is aware of the field at CWG but she said she will be competing with herself and look to set new records in Birmingham.
“CWG is relatively easy for me, I will be fighting with myself. We have planned to lift 91kg or 92kg (snatch) at the CWG. Hopefully, it will happen,” Mirabai had told PTI news agency.
Ravi Dahiya had flown under the radar ahead of the Tokyo Olympics but made heads turn with his silver-medal-winning performance last year. The bonafide wrestling star qualified for the Commonwealth Games in the 57kg category by winning the national trials in New Delhi.
Ravi has warmed up for the CWG by winning a gold medal at the Asian Wrestling Championships in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
All eyes will also be on Bajrang Punia, who will look to retain his Commonwealth Games title and win his 3rd medal in the Games. Bajrang won a bronze at the Tokyo Olympics but the wrestler will want to signal his intentions for Paris 2024 with a strong show in Birmingham.
World Champion Nikhat Zareen will look to win her maiden CWG medal (PTI Photo)
Nikhat Zareen is showing a lot of promise to become the next big boxing superstar from India. The young pugilist is heading to Commonwealth Games to compete in the 50kg category and it’s a great opportunity for her to emerge out of Mary Kom’s shadows.
Nikhat couldn’t have asked for better preparations as the Telengana boxer won the world championships title in Istanbul in May, months after she won a historic 2nd gold medal at Strandja Memorial Tournament.
Along with Nikhat, Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Lovlina Borgohain will also be looking to add to India’s medal tally in boxing in Birmingham. Lovlina will compete in the 70kg category at CWG 2022.
Manika Batra created a frenzy when she rallied against odds and won a historic gold medal in women’s singles in Gold Coast 4 years ago. The star paddler, with more experience and composure by her side, will be looking to defend her crown in Birmingham.
With Manika in the fray for the team events as well, India will also be hoping for strong showing from G Sathiyan who is making rapid strides at the highest level and the veteran Sharath Kamal, who will be hoping to add to his tally of 8 CWG medals.
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