India brace up for the Games, target second position | delhi | Hindustan Times
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India brace up for the Games, target second position

delhi Updated: Oct 02, 2010 15:50 IST
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After a tumultuous and scandal hit run-up, the large Indian contingent is hoping to capitalise on home environment and support to improve their medals tally when the Commonwealth Games, the biggest sporting spectacle to be staged in the country till now, opens in New Delhi on Sunday.

With the large amount of negative publicity generated in the Games build-up due to the poor condition of the Games village, described as "filthy" and "unlivable" by several participating nations, the hosts are hoping that a record medal haul and standing in the table at the end would obliterate the bad vibes.

The country is hosting for only the third time in its history a multi-discipline sports spectacle, after the 1951 and 1982 Asian Games, and a smooth conduct to the Games after what is being promised as a dazzling opening ceremony, would be the ideal balm to the billion-strong population after the shoddy build-up.

India, fielding a record 619-strong contingent, are targeting to finish not lower than third in the medals table, and are even harbouring hopes of finishing second overall, even without major contributions from their athletics or swimming squads.

The hosts are expecting to reap rich rewards from the shooting range, which offers 36 gold medals for men and women, the wrestiling mat (21 gold on offer for men and women) weightlifting arena (15 gold at stake for men and women) and the boxing ring (10 men's gold medals up for grabs).

Besides the country would look up to their archers, shuttlers, paddlers, squash players and men's and women's hockey squads to significantly boost the medals scoop from the 19th edition of the Games that began in 1930.

India's Chef de Mission Bhubneswar Kalita said earlier this week that the home country was gunning for a second-place finish on the podium.

"We are fielding the largest contingent (619). We are aiming to finish second but we don't want to finish below third," said Kalita.

India ended up fourth at Melbourne four years ago, behind host Australia, England and Canada in that order, with a final haul of 49 medals, including 22 gold that was four behind Canada's.

In 2002 at Manchester there was a neck-to-neck fight for the third spot between India and Canada with the latter edging to third place with a haul of 31 gold as compared to the former's 30.

Eight years ago the country had bagged a whopping 69 medals in all and would have to aim much higher than that figure, especially of the yellow variety, to shoot past Canada and finish at least third.