Put the pedal to the metal
Come Wednesday and all roads for sportspersons from approximately 71 nations will lead to Gold Coast in Queensland. By all accounts, the 2018 Commonwealth Games (CWG), the 21st edition of which will be held from April 4 to 15, will be a watershed event for many athletes, and especially so for Indians, who have always done well in this multi-sport extravaga Gold Coastnza.
Come Wednesday and all roads for sportspersons from approximately 71 nations will lead to Gold Coast in Queensland. By all accounts, the 2018 Commonwealth Games (CWG), the 21st edition of which will be held from April 4 to 15, will be a watershed event for many athletes, and especially so for Indians, who have always done well in this multi-sport extravaganza.
In a way, CWG more than adequately compensates for the dismal show in Olympics and the mediocre to average performances in Asian Games, as far as Indian athletes are concerned, which gets evidenced by the fairly impressive 215-medal haul achieved by India in the last three editions. It is not surprising that the best showing came when New Delhi hosted the Games in 2010, the only edition where India crossed the century mark in the medals tally. It is a different matter altogether that it was, inarguably, the most controversial and scam-ridden edition in CWG history. Like it happens before the commencement of any major championship, there are lots of hopes this time around that Indians will bring home a bigger booty from Down Under.
Although, the Indian contingent is relatively strong with 225 athletes carrying the nation’s hopes, what becomes crystal clear is that medal hopes can be pinned on only a few proven champions and a handful of those waiting in the wings to blossom on the bigger canvas. In several disciplines, many will end up as journeymen. A pragmatic and rationalist approach will point that India can nurture podium finishes in badminton, boxing, shooting and weightlifting with the gymnasts also in the running to corner glory, particularly the latest poster girl Aruna B Reddy and fellow-artistic gymnast Pranati Nayak.
Those apart some of the potential medallists could be shuttlers Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth (the last two have been given the pride of place in their respective singles categories), wrestler Sakshi Malik, the ageless boxer Mary Kom, lifter Sanjita Chanu and shooting stars Jitu Rai, Mehuli Ghosh and Heena Sidhu.
There seems to be some sort of exceptional motivation for shooters at CWG because they have fetched the maximum number of medals. Gagan Narang, for instance, was the country’s toast at the 201o Games. Quite ironically, it seems like women shoulder the responsibility to brilliant levels in showpiece events like Olympics, Asiad and CWG. It is rather paradoxical that the badminton players flatter to deceive on the bigger platforms. For all the superlative showing, it has been a bronze or silver finish, the title triumphs in SuperSeries Championships, notwithstanding.
The run-up to Gold Coast has been bizarre although the boxing contingent escaped sanctions for use of syringes at the Village. Not only boxers but all weightlifters and gymnasts have been subject to Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) tests. India may have heaved a sigh of relief following the green signal but the scars will remain for the entire fortnight. Hopefully, a better competitive showing can silence the critics and detractors, once and for all.