In the absence of shooting, India’s traditional fertile ground for medals, these are some of the disciplines and individuals who could finish on the podium for India at the Commonwealth Games 2022. (More Sports News)
After the disappointment in 2018, when Indian track and field athletes fared poorly, they will eye a bigger haul of medals at Birmingham 2022. India had named a squad of 33 athletes, including men’s javelin defending champion Neeraj Chopra. But the Olympic gold medallist is out due to a groin strain which he sustained during the recent World Athletics Championships.
Annu Rani: In Chopra’s absence, the javelin baton has passed on to Annu Rani. The 2014 Asian Games bronze medallist has a personal best throw of 63.24 metres -- India's national record in women's javelin throw. If the 29-year-old matches that performance, she could be in with a medal chance.
Seema Punia: Already a four-time Commonwealth Games medallist, discus thrower Seema Punia, 38, would hope to sign off with the gold following a bronze and three back-to-back silver medals. In the last edition, she narrowly missed out on the gold. The 2014 Incheon Asiad gold medallist's personal best throw is 63.72 metres. She will be determined to replicate that mark.
Indian boxing's overall good run in the Commonwealth Games is expected to continue in the 2022 edition. In the last edition, Indian pugilists narrowly missed out on the team honours to England despite winning the same numbers of medals, on the gold medal count. India, ranked 10th in the all-time medal tally, has so far won eight gold, 12 silver and 17 bronze. India will be represented by 12 boxers in the ring at National Exhibition Centre.
Nikhat Zareen: She is the heir apparent to MC Mary Kom, and got the top billing in her category despite dropping two kgs to compete in women's 50kg category. This will be Nikhat’s Commonwealth Games debut, but the reigning world champion in 52 kg is more than ready to make up for her lost chances. Birmingham will be just the perfect warm-up for the 26-year-old as she seeks greater glories in Hangzhou 2023 and Paris 2024.
Lovlina Borgohain: After the high of winning a bronze at the Olympics, Lovlina Borgohain made an unceremonious pre-quarterfinal exit from the World Boxing Championships in May. Now, the 24-year-old is ready to make amends. The two-time World Championship bronze medallist is eyeing her first gold medal in a major event. And she knows she is a favourite in her category (70 kg).
It's safe to assume that Indian grapplers will dominate the wrestling competitions at Coventry Arena. India won 12 wrestling medals in 2018 (five gold, three silver, four bronze). Anything less than double figures in 2022 will be a disappointment. India has named 11 wrestlers for the Commonwealth Games 2022.
Bajrang Punia: Already a legend, Bajrang Punia will defend his 65 kg gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. The 27-year-old settled for a bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, and that heartbreak has given him extra motivation to do well in Birmingham. The only Indian wrestler to win three medals at the World Championships is also one of the most experienced grapplers in Birmingham.
Vinesh Phogat The 28-year-old is looking to become the first Indian woman across any sport to win gold medals at three successive Commonwealth Games. Also, if she wins the shiny yellow disc in Birmingham, it will be three in three different weights -- 48 kg in Glasgow 2014, 50 kg in Gold Coast 2018, and 53 kg in 2022. That's some motivation. Vinesh Phogat had a forgettable Olympics, and now it's redemption time.
Cricket returns to Commonwealth Games with the women's T20 event. Eight teams will compete for three medals. The Harmanpreet Kaur-led Indian team is one of the favourites for a podium finish. Besides the Asia Cup, India women have never won a big tournament. Birmingham presents them a chance to end their trophy/medal drought.
India will face Australia, Pakistan and Barbados during the group stage (Group A). The two top teams from each group make the semi-final. The losing semi-finalists fight for the bronze medal.
Indian shuttlers will be hot favourites in Birmingham. In the last edition, India trumped traditional heavyweights Malaysia and England to become the 'best badminton nation' with six medals (two gold, three silver and one bronze). Ten players will represent India at the Games.
PV Sindhu: The 27-year-old is the undisputed queen of Indian sports and she is primed for more glory. She is yet to win a women's singles badminton title at the Commonwealth Games. With her recent, morale boosting title in Singapore, expectations from Sindhu are high.
Lakshya Sen: Only 20, he is already among the world's best. After his break-out year in 2021, Lakhya Sen has set up some fascinating rivalries with the world's top players. In Birmingham, Sen will be a favourite, alongside Loh Kean Yew (Singapore), Lee Zii Jia (Malaysia) and his Indian compatriot Kidambi Srikanth.
Indian weightlifters reigned supreme in 2018, bringing home a rich haul of nine medals, including five golds. And this year too, all 15 lifters are capable of podium finishes. However, only a handful are expected to strike gold at National Exhibition Centre.
Saikhom Mirabai Chanu: All eyes will be on Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, the Olympic silver medallist. The 27-year-old won the gold in 2018 and silver in 2014, both in 48 kg. Now the event has become a 49 kg affair, and Chanu is game for it. After all, there will be no Chinese lifters at the CWG.
Jeremy Lalrinnunga: The 19-year-old holds three national records - snatch (141kg), clean and jerk (167kg) and total (306kg) – in the men's 67kg category. The question now is, will the 2018 Youth Olympic champion get his first big upgrade and do justice to his talent. It will be worth following his performances in Birmingham.
Since field hockey’s debut at the Commonwealth Games in 1998, both the Australian men and women sides have dominated the sport. While the Australian men won all the competitions so far, the Aussie women have won four out of six editions. In Birmingham, both the Indian teams will aim to break the Australian domination.
In the men’s section, India have been placed in a relatively easier group alongside England, Canada, Wales and Ghana; and they are expected to qualify for the semi-finals. There is also a prospect of an India-Pakistan semi-final clash, provided the latter finish among the top two in their group.
Indian women have the exact same opponents in their group as their male counterparts. While they are expected to make the semi-finals, stiff competition might await them in the last four stage, against either Australia or New Zealand.