We Must Build Upon the CWG Success Story
We Must Build Upon the CWG Success Story
India’s impressive showing at the Commonwealth Games (CWG) at Gold Coast augurs well for the country’s sportsmen and sportswomen particularly with the Asian Games to be held later this year at Jakarta but more importantly for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Finally there seems to be in place some system and infrastructure to produce champions whereas in the past the occasional champions were a product of their own hard work and sacrifices.
What is particularly gratifying to note is that the medal count runs through various disciplines and across genders. In the past Indian medals have been won courtesy two or three sports and by either men or women. This time the medals were won in athletics, boxing, badminton, weightlifting, shooting, wrestling, table tennis and squash.
Coming to gender, men won 35 of the 66 medals while women won 28 and three were in mixed events. When it comes to distribution of the 26 gold medals 13 were won by men and 12 by women while one was a mixed event. It was even-steven in the silver haul too as men won nine, women ten and one was a mixed event. The men did better when it came to the bronze medals with 13 to their name and six to the women while one came from a mixed event.
India’s haul of 26 golds, 20 silver and 20 bronze saw them finish third in the final medals tally behind only hosts Australia and England and ahead of such Commonwealth powerhouses as Canada and New Zealand.
In the process they breached their medal tally from the previous games at Glasgow in 2014. Four years ago India won 64 medals – 15 gold, 30 silver and 19 bronze. The maximum medals India has at the Games was in New Delhi in 2010 when a massive 600-plus strong squad bagged 101 medals.
One does not know where to begin the story of India’s successful campaign but the fact remains that with 16 medals, shooting was the most profitable discipline followed by wrestling which fetched 12. In fact an incredible fact is that all the 12 wrestlers who were part of the Indian contingent returned with medals. But there were other success stories too. For example all eight male boxers won medals despite the Indian Federation not exactly having its house in order for years.
The two racquet sports of badminton and table tennis accounted for five gold, five silver and four bronze. And while the badminton honours might have run along expected lines what with the likes of PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth among the participants table tennis provided a most pleasant surprise.
A tally of three gold, one silver and three bronze was totally unexpected and indeed the TT squad won a medal in all seven events – an unprecedented sweep of team golds and a historic gold in the women’s singles. Indeed Manika Batra the 22-year- old paddler from New Delhi was the star of India’s stellar show winning two gold, one silver and one bronze. A word of praise is also due to Neeraj Chopra who won India’s sole gold medal in athletics while becoming the first from this country to win the javelin throw at an international meet.
Another noteworthy aspect was that the medal winners were both young and old. Standing on the podium were 15-year-old Anish Bhanwala (shooting, men), and Manu Bhaker (shooting, women) and Mehuli Ghosh (shooting, women), both 16. At the other end of the age scale the medal winners included paddler Sharath Kamal (35), wrestler Sushil Kumar (34) and legendary boxer Mary Kom (35).
About the only real disappointment were the hockey squads. At least a podium finish was predicted by both the teams but the men and women both finished fourth. And off the field India’s reputation took a beating when AV Rakesh Babu and KT Irfan were sent packing from the Games village for violation of the ''no needles’’ policy after needles were found in their rooms.
What is important now is to build upon the gains the sportsmen and women have provided so that there can be another successful run at Jakarta. The overall standards are a bit higher in the Asian Games what with the likes of China, Japan, the two Koreas, Thailand and Indonesia around. But the Indian contingent at Gold Coast has given enough indication of a strong showing at Jakarta even if it would be over optimistic to expect a gold haul anywhere close to what the Indians managed from the Commonwealth Games.