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Watch out for these Indians at the Commonwealth Games

Last updated on: April 03, 2018 11:11 IST

Rediff.com's Norma Godinho and Laxmi Negi glance at the athletes and disciplines likely to win medals for India at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The Commonwealth Games have always been a hunting ground for Indian sportspersons. The number of medals they have won at the CWG is evidence of this.

At the 2010 CWG in New Delhi, India finished second with a staggering 101 medals -- the country's most successful campaign.

Indian athletes returned with 64 medals from the 2014 CWG in Glasgow.

The 2018 Commonwealth Games begin in the Gold Coast, Australia, on Wednesday, April 5. India, with a 225-strong contingent across 15 disciplines, is expected to produce a good showing.

Meet the athletes and disciplines who offer promise of winning medals for India at the 2018 CWG. The first of a two-part series:

 

Weightlifting

Mirabai Chanu
IMAGE: 'I can say I will win gold,' asserts Mirabai Chanu. Photograph: Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Mirabai Chanu is tipped to bring home one of the first medals for India.

The 23-year-old weightlifter won a World Championship gold medal last November, set a new world record of 194kg -- 85kg snatch and 109kg clean-and-jerk.

It was India's first gold medal at a world weightlifting championship in 22 years.

Preceding her gold at the world championship, the champ from Manipur won gold at the Commonwealth championships in Australia in July 2017 with a total lift of 189 kg (85+104).

She won silver in her category in the Glasgow CWG, but more is expected of her in the Gold Coast.

'The competition in the CWG is less as compared to the Asian Games or World championships,' says Mirabai, 'so it will be a bit easy in the Gold Coast. I can say I will win gold. It should not be difficult for me to do that.'

At the Glasgow Games, S Sathish Kumar and Khumukcham Sanjita Chanu won gold.

Sanjita will compete in the 53kg category this Games.

Punam Yadav and Vandana Gupta, who finished with a bronze in the 69kg, and was fourth, respectively, in Glasgow are expected to raise their performance in the Gold Coast.

 

Squash

Dipika Pallikal
IMAGE: Dipika Pallikal, left, and Joshna Chinappa are optimistic about their chances. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Remember that endearing photograph of Dipika Pallikal and her then boyfriend (now husband) Dinesh Karthik standing after winning the doubles gold at the Glasgow CWG? Dipika and Joshna Chinappa won India its first squash medal at a Commonwealth Games.

The Indian pair upset the Malaysian combine of Nicol David and Low Wee Wern before stunning the top seeds from England, Laura Massaro and Jenny Duncalf, to win gold.

Dipika and Joshna have their task cut out as they head to the Gold Coast without a coach.

The acrimonious exit of coach Achraf El Karargui days before the Commonwealth Games has affected the team's preparations.

Dipika is optimistic that India can bring home the prized yellow medal in all three categories -- singles, doubles, mixed doubles.

'Our best chance is the women's doubles, but anything can happen in that format as we don't play it often. The singles will be played first and we are focussed on that. There is a good chance of winning a singles medal too,' Dipika has been quoted as saying.

Veteran Sourav Ghosal is another medal prospect.

The World No 14, who won the India Open championship last month, looks good to go deep into the competition.

In Glasgow, he was knocked out in the fourth round, but won a silver medal at the Asian Games later that year. Going by his current form, Sourav can add to India's medals tally in the Gold Coast.

 

Shooting

Manu Baker
IMAGE: Manu Bhakar, the rising star of Indian shooting. Photograph: ISSF/Twitter

Indian shooters are the nation's biggest medal contenders at the CWG, Asian Games, Olympics.

Jitu Rai, who won gold in the men's 50m pistol event in Glasgow, is expected to perform an encore.

After a poor show at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Rai came back strongly to win a string of medals -- individual and team -- at different World Cup events.

Soon after Rio, he won silver at the ISSF World Cup in Italy.

The turn of the year saw Rai win the 50m gold and 10m bronze in New Delhi at the World Cup.

He then teamed up with Heena Sidhu at the 2017 ISSF World Cup to win the 10m air pistol mixed team event.

Although she failed to do much despite qualifying for the Glasgow CWG final, Sidhu has been riding an exceptional wave.

After a disappointing Rio Olympics, she was a revelation last year when her consistent performances saw her win 3 gold medals at ISSF World Cups.

Heena won gold (10m air pistol) at the Commonwealth shooting championships.

Bronze medals at the 10th Asian championship and the Grand Prix of Liberation Plaza Shooting Championships make her one of the favourites at the Gold Coast Games.

Watch out also for Mehuli Ghosh, Manu Bhakar and Apurvi Chandela.

Apurvi won a gold in the women's 10m Air Rifle event in Glasgow and is expected to defend her title in the Gold Coast.

Manu -- 16, a star at the ISSF Youth World Cup -- is another big bet for a CWG medal.

An ace in the 10m air pistol category, Manu won a double gold at her maiden senior World Cup in Mexico.

She then took her form into the Junior World Cup where she won three medals.

Last year, she won silver at the Asian Championships, winning a place at the Youth Olympics. This young gun is the one to watch out for at the CWG.

 

Gymnastics

Aruna Reddy
IMAGE: Aruna Budda Reddy is the first Indian gymnast to win a World Cup medal. Photograph: Indian Gymnastics/Twitter

Dipa Karmakar won a historic bronze medal at the 2014 CWG. Her incredible 4th place finish at the Rio Olympics gave India hope of more medals from the Tripura gymnast.

Injury has ruled Dipa out of the Gold Coast CWG.

But not to worry. Other Indian gymnasts will try to emulate Dipa's feats.

Among them are Aruna Reddy and Pranati Nayak, artistic gymnasts, vaulting for glory.

Aruna is the first Indian gymnast to win a medal in a World Cup. She also made it to the finals in the floor exercises at the event. Reason enough to believe that on her day, Aruna could make a name for herself bring laurels to the country.

Pranati finished fourth in the vault final at the Asian Gymnastics Championships in Bangkok last May. She has been practicing the 360 backflip, front flip 180, and has added the backflip 720 to her repertoire.

'The first aim will be to secure a place in the final,' Pranati said before the team flew to the Gold Coast, adding, 'I'm not thinking too far of winning a medal right now.'

Norma Godinho, Laxmi Negi