Slipping out of the usual top-five was seen as a real possibility in absence of shooting but phenomenal success in athletics and lawn bowls propelled India to a commendable fourth place finish at the just-concluded Commonwealth Games.
About 25 percent of India’s 66 medals came from the shooting range in the previous edition and not many believed that India will be able to touch even 50 but the country ended up with 61, courtesy unprecedented success in track and field events that delivered eight medals, the highest for India in a CWG edition overseas.
It indeed, was a big success story from the Birmingham Games.
Eldhose Paul and Abdullah Aboobacker’s rare 1-2 finish in triple jump will be cherished for long. Avinash Sable’s silver in the 3000m steeplechase and Tejaswin Shankar’s bronze in the high jump were also a first for India while Murali Sreeshankar’s silver in the long jump was the country’s first since 1978.
Annu Rani too etched her name in the history books by becoming the first Indian female athlete to secure a medal in javelin throw, a bronze. Priyanka Goswami and Sandeep Kumar brought medals in the 10,000-metre race walk, contributing immensely to the success.
World Championship medallist Anju Bobby George had predicted at least seven medals from the Games, but India managed to surpass that despite the absence of Neeraj Chopra, who missed the multi sporting event due to a groin injury.
A gold and silver from Lawn Bowls
The feel-good story of the Games came from the lawn bowls greens in Victoria Park. A police constable, sports teacher and a forest officer combined to catch the imagination of the entire country by winning tthe women’s fours gold in a sport, nuances of which would still be unknown to many.
The team comprised Lovely Choubey, Pinki, Rupa Rani Tirkey and Nayanmoni Saikia
Inspired by them, the men’s quartet too sprang a surprise by winning silver in the sport that has been part of the sports program since 1930. Navneet Singh, Chandan Kumar Singh, Sunil Bahadur and Dinesh Kumar are hoping the medal ends up changing their lives.
Reaffirming their dominance at the CWG, Indian wrestlers won medals in all the 12 events they competed in and that included six gold.
Getting gold was like a walk in the park for Olympic medallists Ravi Dahiya and Bajrang Punia while by stepping on the top of the podium, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat made a roaring comeback after a rough patch.
Three medals also came from the judo mat including a silver from Delhi-based Tullika Maan who is already itching to change the colour of her medal.
Table tennis got India the most number of gold medals after wrestling. Achanta Sharath Kamal showed 40 is just a number by adding three gold to a record equalling 13 medals in Games’ history including the singles title after 16 years. Paralympic Games medallist Bhavina Patel contributed to India’s gold rush by winning the C3-5 category.
The badminton courts at the NEC arena fetched India three gold with superstar P V Sindhu finally winning her maiden title. The young Lakshya Sen also put up an inspiring effort to complete India’s sweep in the singles competition.
At the boxing arena, Nitu bossed the 48kg weight category while Amit Panghal overcame the disappointment of Tokyo Olympics to top the 51kg category.
There were a few disappointments as well. The women’s cricket team did well to get a silver, but it had gold for the taking in the final against Australia.
It was a mixed bag in the hockey competition with women winning their first medal since Melbourne 2006 while the men were hammered by Australia in the final.