Shooting’s exclusion from CWG 2022 will have no effect on Olympic preparations
Shooting’s exclusion from the Commonwealth Games (CWG) will undoubtedly hamper India’s overall ranking at the games—the chief reason why the Indian Olympic Association is threatening to boycott Birmingham 2022—but will it make any difference in India’s preparations for the 2024 Olympics?
In the last three editions of the CWG, shooting has contributed the lion’s share in India’s overall tally of medals. In Delhi 2010, Indian shooters clinched 30 of the total 101 medals won. Four years later in Glasgow, Indian shooting’s contribution was of 17 medals in the overall tally of 64 while last year in Gold Coast, the discipline earned India 16 out of 66 medals.
However, when it comes to the Olympics, the same shooters fail to reach the podium; the conversion rate of turning a CWG medal into an Olympic one is negligible.
At the 2012 London Olympics, there were 45 shooting medals at stake out of which only three went to Commonwealth nations—two were won by Indians, Vijay Kumar (silver) and Gagan Narang (bronze), and one by the hosts’ double trap shooter Peter Wilson—meaning there was only 6.6 percent representation of the Commonwealth on the podium.
There were again 45 medals at stake in the sport four years later in Rio out of which four (all in shotgun events) were won by shooters from the Commonwealth, increasing their podium percentage to a mere 8.8.
As far as shotgun events are concerned, Indians have never been at the forefront in CWG, the forces to reckon with in this discipline from the Commonwealth are Great Britain and Australia, who also dominate at the Olympics.
The Asian Games, which take place in the same year as a CWG, are a far better indicator of who will take honours at the Olympics—it also provides a bigger platform and better competition than the CWG.
In London 2012, every third medal in shooting was won by an Asian (16 out of 45). In Rio 2016, 12 out of the 45 were won by Asians.
CWG vs Olympic ranking
IOA’s main concern, highlighted in its letter to sports minister Kiren Rijiju on July 26, is that the exclusion of shooting will hamper India’s overall ranking in 2022. “In 2018 India finished overall third and medals won in shooting were 16. By removing shooting from 2022 CWG, India’s medal ranking might go down from third to anywhere between 5th-8th in 2022,” wrote IOA president Narinder Batra.
Let’s take a look at the overall CWG tally and where it realistically stands in comparison to the Olympics.
India’s medal conversion rate (in all sports) from Glasgow 2014 to Rio 2016 is a mere three percent (64 CWG medals to two at Rio) while countries like Jamaica and Kenya, who have always finished way behind India in CWG, have a conversion rate of over 50 percent.
Jamaica won 22 medals in Glasgow 2014 while it clinched 11 in Rio. Kenya’s 25 medals in 2014 were converted to 13 in Rio 2016. New Zealand’s conversion rate is 40 percent (45 to 18) while Malaysia (19 to 5) and South Africa (40 to 10) too have success rates of 25 percent or more.
Where CWG really matters
In track and field at Rio 2016, almost every fourth medal was won by Commonwealth countries. Similarly in swimming, Commonwealth countries garnered 20 medals while in cycling and gymnastics, 14 and eight, respectively. India is not strong in any of these events.
In Gold Coast 2018, 70 percent of India’s medals came via shooting (16), wrestling (12), boxing (9) and weightlifting (9) with the four disciplines accounting for 46 medals out of 66 won. These are the disciplines India dominates at the Commonwealth level, but not at the Asian levels. At the Jakarta Asian Games the same year, India won just 14 medals from these four sports. Again, the Asian Games are a much better indicator of who will win medals at the Olympics in these sports.
In Rio 2016, 95 of the 185 medals on offer in shooting, wrestling, boxing, and hockey went to Asian countries; Commonwealth nations won just 8 of those 185 medals.