2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games: The hits and misses

A look at the hits and misses at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast that ended on Sunday evening

other sports Updated: Apr 16, 2018 20:12 IST
B Shrikant
B Shrikant
Hindustan Times, Gold Coast
2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games,2018 Commonwealth Games,Gold Coast 2018
Manika Batra (R) was one of the biggest positives for India at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games as she won two gold, one silver and one bronze medal in table tennis.(REUTERS)

The recently-concluded 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast produced a number of hits and misses. Here is a look at some of the major ones:

THE HITS

Manika Batra

She was India’s cinderella girl for this edition of the Commonwealth Games. Before the games, any medal would have been okay, for Singapore were too strong. They had the world no. 4 Tianwei Feng and Mengyu Yu in their ranks. But Manika, ranked 58th in the world, exceeded all expectations to not only lead India to a gold medal in the team championships, but also in singles, beating both the higher ranked players from Singapore. She used superb tactics to outwit higher ranked players and because of her performance, India managed to make a dent on the table tennis order at CWG. Will she be able to translate this success at the ITTF Tour and on the world stage?

Saina Nehwal

There were question marks over her form and her return from injury that had dragged on for months. The fact that a younger player like PV Sindhu had overtaken her in the rankings was further fuelling the discussion. Saina answered all her critics with a superlative show as she helped India win the mixed team championship for the first time and also bagged the singles crown that she had won in 2010. Her duel with Sindhu in the women’s singles final kept the crowd enthralled. She now has to start winning titles again and climb up in the rankings.

READ | For two days, I did not sleep - Saina Nehwal on her father being denied entry to Games Village

Mary Kom and band of merry boxers

Everyone knew that MC Mary Kom had an easy path to the gold medal in the 45-48 kg class as there were only eight competitors and all young and fairly inexperienced. But then Mary Kom was contesting against herself, hoping to prove that even at 35, the mother of three still had the drive and desire to win medals. The Commonwealth Games medal was the only one missing from her trophy cabinet. Now that the anomaly has been set right, can she continue till 2020? She wants to add gold to her bronze medal from 2012 but it will be an uphill task. However, when it comes to Mary Kom, not many would like to bet against her.

Kidambi Srikanth

Midway through the competition, Srikanth became the world no 1, only the second Indian male badminton player after Prakash Padukone to do so. But more important for him would be the win against Lee Chong Wei in the team competition. He had the former world no 1 and three-time Olympic medallist in a spot of bother in the singles final too but could not close out the match.

Achanta Sharath Kamal

He himself agrees that he is the odd one out in Indian table tennis as youngsters are trying to take over the mantle. But Sharath, the 2006 champion, proved that his 35-year-old body still has lot of resolve and determination left in it. He spearheaded India’s campaign to the men’s team championship by winning crucial matches in semis, claimed silver in doubles with G Sathiyan and bronze in men’s singles, his three medals making him the most successful male player for India.

READ | 2018 Commonwealth Games boss sorry for dull closing ceremony

The weightlifters

Mirabai Chanu started India’s gold rush by winning the yellow metal in women’s 48kg weightlifting. The floodgates opened as India bagged five gold, two silver and two bronze to become the most successful nation at Gold Coast. Sanjita Chanu, Punam Yadav, Sathish Shivalingam and Ragala Venkat Rahul won gold medals while youngsters Deepak Lather and Gururaja impressed with their performances.

Neeraj Chopra

Clearly the best athletics talent to come out of the country, the 20-year-old javelin thrower became only the fifth from the country to win gold at Commonwealth Games. He was only the third male athlete from the country to win CWG gold. Though the competition was depleted, Neeraj did not let his desire flag as he missed his personal best by just a centimetre. A star to watch out for in future.

Our young shooters

They are below 20 and already catching the eye by their confident performances on the world stage. Manu Bhaker, Anish Bhanwala and Mehuli Ghosh had recently won medals at the ISSF World Cup in Mexico and continued with their streak in Gold Coast. Manu and Anish won gold medals while Mehuli had to be satisfied with silver after losing in a shoot-off. What caught the eye was their unshakable confidence – both Anish and Mehuli came up with their best shots in crunch time. Mehuli shot 10.9 on her final shot in 10m air rifle while Anish scored five out of five in the final series in men’s 25m rapid fire.

READ | In battle between Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu, Indian badminton the winner

Tejaswini Sawant

A lot was expected when she made her debut with a bang at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, winning two gold medals. She went on to win the world championship in 2009 but family commitments seems to have taken precedence for Tejaswini. The 35-year-old, however, proved that she has got the desire back by winning gold in women’s 50m rifle 3-position and a silver in 50m rifle prone.

Shreyasi Singh

Another Indian shooter to triumph in a shoot-off, Shreyasi bagged gold in women’s double trap. She had bagged silver four years ago, but with double trap out of Olympic competition, wanted to win the gold before she shifted to trap. She did that by defeating Australia’s Emma Cox in a shoot-off in front of her home crowd.

Dipika Pallikal

The focus has always been on Joshna Chinappa even though Dipika has had lot of success in recent times. Joshna is the higher ranked player but in Gold Coast, Dipika came out of her shadow and claimed two silver medals. Though she was the defending champion along with Joshna in women’s doubles and could have retained the medal but for some contentious calls in the final. She also partnered Saurav Ghosal to bag silver in mixed doubles and reached the Round of 16 in singles. A good show all the way.

Sushil Kumar

The two-time Olympic medallist was not expected to be tested in Commonwealth Games as the standard is not so great. Sushil won the gold without breaking sweat, outplaying all his opponents. But what mattered more was that he had set aside all the controversy over the walkovers at the Nationals, the clash between his supporters and those of his opponent Praveen Rana and the concerns over his preparations away from the national camp.

READ | 2018 Commonwealth Games: Once on the ropes, Indian boxing comes out swinging

The unlucky athletes

Muhammed Anas, Jinson Johnson and Arpinder Singh came up with their best performances at Gold Coast, proving that Indian athletes are improving and getting close to the top. Anas ran a brilliant race to finish fourth, improving on the national record in 400m while Jinson Johnson also set a new national record in finishing fifth in men’s 1500m. Arpinder Singh missed a medal in men’s triple jump by a few centimetres as she finished fourth.

Local organising committee

There were apprehensions whether they would be able to pull it off and present a successful Games because it was being held in the non-capital city for the first time. The infrastructure was quite spread out and it was for the first time that events were being held in cities that were more than 1000km away. But they managed to conduct the games without major glitches. The transport system worked well as did the entire competitions.

The volunteers

The Organising Committee for Gold Coast Commonwealth Games had mobilised 15,000 volunteers and they played a huge role in the success of the Games. They were cheerful, enthusiastic, prompt, ready to help and managed their functions wonderfully. Along with other workforce, they kept things running along without any problem and played a big role in fulfilling the organising committee’s desire to involve the local families at the Games.

READ | 2018 Commonwealth Games: Gold Coast bids adieu with colourful ceremony

THE MISSES

Rakesh Babu and Irfan KT

The two athletes had their accreditations suspended and both were sent back home for breaching the Commonwealth Games Federation’s no-needle policy as syringes were recovered from Rakesh Babu’s bag and also in their room. The IOA says it had passed on the information to athletes via the national federations but the fact that these two were caught despite the earlier case of boxing doctor proves that there is a lot than what meets the eye. Whatever their explanation, they were not supposed to have needles inside the Village without prior permission. Both IOA and AFI have announced further action and one hopes they make an example of these two so that such incidents don’t happen in future.

Indian Olympic Association

The biggest loser for India at the Games as it bungled and stumbled around, mishandling the accreditation issue of Saina Nehwal’s father and that of the physiotherapist of the weightlifting team, forcing some lifters to compete despite injury concerns. The IOA officials blame federations for this (there is some truth that the federations were trying to push in extra officials). It needs to be strict with national federations and strictly discourage this policy of bringing freeloaders at the expense of support staff. But when IOA officials themselves bring in their family members, do they have the moral standing to stop others?

Dr. Amol Patil

The doctor with the Indian boxing team was reprimanded for failing to dispose off the used needles as per the CGF’s no-needle policy. The CGF’s Federation Court itself pointed out that this was the first Games for him as well as the chief medical officer of the Indian contingent. The IOA needs to be more careful about such selections and maybe conduct a pre-departure camp for them too.

READ | 2018 Commonwealth Games: Organisers slam photo-snapping fans after marathon collapse

IOA officials again

IOA officials’ handling of the breach of no-needle policy on both occasions would have been funny if the situation was not so serious. In the first instance, the attempt to pass off the discovery of needles near their accommodation as an act of a “good samaritan” was too much. If the officials had followed the rules, then why hide the fact? It clearly showed that those fielding questions from media were either ill-informed or trying to be too smart. In the second case too, the IOA’s explainations were not convincing enough and the chef de mission and other officials were lucky to get off with a severe reprimand.

Hockey teams fall apart

The men’s team had bagged silver medals in the last two editions, is ranked sixth in the world and was expected to end Australia’s domination. It failed to put up a convincing show and failed to win a medal. They managed to produce only one good performance – in the preliminary league match against England and struggled to beat Wales.

The women’s team improved on its fifth place finish and finished fourth but that was a small consolation. The defeat against Wales was very disappointing and though they beat England once, could not repeat that in the bronze medal match. A disappointing show altogether.

Saina threatens to pull out

Though she managed to win two gold medals, that would not atone for her emotional outburst of threatening to pull out of the Games if her father was not given accommodation in the Athletes’ Village. While she had paid money to IOA and therefore had all the right to seek what she had paid for, getting herself into such a situation was incomprehensible. Her father had been with her in similar events and had not stayed at Games Village earlier too. He could have very well done the same thing here. She could have set an example for everyone by making separate arrangements for her father.

READ | 2018 Commonwealth Games: Sachin Tendulkar showers praise on Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu

Yohan Blake

He was supposed to win the 100m race and take over the mantle from Usain Bolt. But Blake failed to get a good start and finished third behind two unknown South Africans in 10.19, a poor time by his own standards. As Blake himself admitted, he was too confident, underestimated the competition and failed to get going. Though there are a lot of races still in the season, he needs to get his form back and start winning the big ones as time is running out fast on him.

African athletes go missing

Athletes from Africa have done the vanishing act at a sports event once again. At the Commonwealth Games, in all 13 athletes have been reported missing on the final day of competition. They include eight from Cameroon, two from Sierra Leone and one each from Uganda, Ghana and Rwanda. It is reported that they are seeking asylum but the CGF officials are still expecting them to return, claiming they might have gone to visit their relatives.

Budda Aruna Reddy and Indian gymnasts

Having won bronze medal at the World Cup series in Melbourne, she was one of the contenders in vault. However, she faltered in landing and lost points. She was also penalised for not wearing the India emblem. Same was the story of other gymnasts. The women’s team was even penalised for not wearing the same coloured outfit, which was an unpardonable oversight on part of the officials accompanying the team.

Sarita Devi & Pinki

While all the male boxers made it to the medal round, only MC Mary Kom did that in women’s section. There were lot of hopes from Sarita Devi and Pinki Rani but both failed to deliver. Sarita Devi lost to an Australian in the quarterfinals while Pinki was beaten by a boxer from England, her challenge coming to an end before the medal round.

First Published: Apr 16, 2018 18:15 IST