From PV Sindhu to Nikhat Zareen, India's top 10 gold medal contenders at 2022 Commonwealth Games
Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 is the mega sporting event to showcase a country's sporting power to the world. PV Sindhu is India's flagbearer alongwith men's hockey captain Manpreet Singh in the opening ceremony on Thursday and as India expects a rich haul of medals this time, let's take a look at India's top 10 gold medal contenders.
Birmingham Commonwealth Games (CWG) is round the corner, and with a total of 215 athletes participating, India would be hoping for their best over performance at the sporting extravaganza. Having won 66 medals, India finished third in the medal tally at the 2018 CWG games in Gold Coast, behind first-placed Australia and England at second. So India is hoping to better its performance in this edition of the games.
India would be missing its shooting contingent in Birmingham after the sport was excluded from this year's event. And have suffered a body blow in the form of Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra who pulled out of the CWG due to injury. But what holds India in good stead is that their leading sportspersons are entering CWG on the back of confident showing in recently held competitions across the globe. The presence of some star athletes and Olympic medal winners gives them a good chance to bring more medals. Keeping that in mind, here are the top 10 gold medal contenders for India at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022.
1. PV Sindhu (Badminton)
When we talk of female shuttlers in India, the first two names that pop up are Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu. And while Saina has become a pale shadow of her glorious past, ace Shuttler Sindhu has emerged as a world-class player and needs no introduction. The first and only woman from India to have won two Olympic medals, Sindhu added the Singapore Open and Swiss Open titles to her name in 2022.
Indian fans will feel assured of a scintillating performance and a medal when Sindhu enters the Badminton court in CWG. Sindhu begins her campaign in CWG in the category of women's singles on August 3. Canada's Michelle Li, Scotland's Kirsty Gilmour and Singapore's Yeo jia will be among Sindhu's stiffest challengers. It won't be a cakewalk for her but India will be roaring for a gold medal finish from its superstar.
2. Nikhat Zareen (Boxing)
Already being touted as the next 'Mary Kom', Nikhat Zareen will be entering the CWG 2022 as the World champion having won gold in the recently held World Boxing Championships in Turkey. Only five Indian women have been crowned the world champion in boxing and Zareen should be mighty proud to be part of that list. Zareen had grabbed national headlines for her rift with her childhood hero Mary for a place in the Indian contingent heading to Tokyo Olympics 2020. In the trial fight for a place in the Olympics, Mary had reigned supreme over Zareen. But ever since, she has done wonders , getting better with each passing competition. After burying the hatchet with Mary, Zareen is heading to the CWG games high on confidence, and what better way to climb up the ladder even further than a CWG medal.
3. Mirabai Chanu (Weightlifting)
Mirabai Chanu was the one who opened India’s account by winning a silver medal in weightlifting at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Hailing from Manipur, Chanu is a two-time commonwealth games medallist having won silver in Glasgow and gold in Gold Coast. Her story of going to train by taking lift from truck drivers is a testimony to her grit and never say die attitude. Chanu is the perfect example of the adage "Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". A veteran weightlifter, Chanu has prepared hard for the CWG 2022 and anything less than a gold medal would be a disappointment for her. Chanu will compete in the Women’s 55 kg category on July 30 and will look to add an unprecedented third CWG medal at the games.
4. Ravi Kumar Dahiya (Wrestling)
As you enter the Chhatrasal Stadium in Delhi, Ravi Dahiya’s portrait adorns one of the walls in the stadium. An inspiration for fellow wrestlers and silver medallist of the Tokyo Olympics 2020, Ravi has shown great promise by winning the gold medal in the Asian Championships this year. He is a wrestler of a different mettle as he continued to pin down his opponent despite getting controversially bitten during the Tokyo Olympics semi-final match. Ravi was disappointed on missing out on gold in Tokyo , and would leave no stone unturned in making up for it with a top podium finish here. He will be competing in the 57kg wrestling category beginning August 6 in CWG 2022.
5. Indian Women's Cricket Team
For a nation that breathes cricket, CWG has got a surprise. The sport is making its debut in the CWG 2022 in T20I format. Cricket crazy Indian fans will have a wonderful opportunity to cheer for the Women in Blue this time in an event which is bigger than the ICC World Cup. Led by Captain Harmanpreet Kaur, the Indian team shall face tough challenges from England and Australia. The likes of Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma and Jemimah Rodrigues will be spearheading India’s bid for glory in the games. India’s performance will depend a lot on how our players capitalize on the playing conditions. Given the Indian team’s great record and expertise, we can expect a medal for sure from our Women in Blue.
6. Lakshya Sen (Badminton)
All of 20 years old, Lakshya Sen is already a superstar for India in the men’s singles Badminton. Just this year, India beat 14-time Thomas Cup winners Indonesia to claim the title and Lakshya was the one who opened India’s account in the final. The enormity of the achievement can be realized by the fact that experts drew comparisons of the Thomas Cup victory to India’s Cricket World Cup win in 1983. Lakshya is also a bronze medallist at the world championships and will be going to CWG riding on marvellous achievements of being winner in Indian Open and Thomas Cup and being runner up in All England Open and German Open. Lakshya will start his campaign in CWG 2022 on August 3. India’s hopes of a gold medal in Badminton will rest a lot on his young shoulders.
7. Men's Hockey Team.
The Men's Hockey team ended India’s dry run at the Olympics by bagging bronze in the Tokyo Olympics 2020. It was India’s first Olympic medal in hockey after 41 long years since 1980. The Indian team is going to CWG having secured third place in the recently held FIH pro league 2021-2022 event, their best ever performance. The team shall face a tough challenge from defending champions Australia. However, India can surely rely on the brilliance of captain Manpreet Singh, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh and others in the team, who will leave no stone unturned in their bid for a gold medal finish.
8. Hima Das (Athletics)
Nicknamed the 'Dhing Express', the speed-runner from the Indian state of Assam, Hima Das is heading to the CWG to compete in the women's 4X100m relay event. The Indian team for the relay event includes Dutee Chand, Srabani Nanda, MV Jilna and NS Simi. But Arjuna Awardee Hima is a seasoned sprinter having won medals for India at regular intervals in world events and is one of the top contenders to win a medal. Hima had clinched gold in the 4X100m mixed relay event at the Asian Games in 2018. And In July 2019, she had a fairytale campaign on track and field as she won five gold medals in different world events. However, Hima is yet to win a medal at any big multi-sport event like the Olympics, Asian Games or Commonwealth Games, and what better occasion to get off the mark than at the CWG 2022.
9. Lovlina Borgohain (Boxing)
Lovlina Borgohain is representing India in the Women's 70 kg boxing competition in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist, Lovlina packs quite a punch in her fist. Not many know that Lovlina, the star boxer from Assam, is a trained martial artist in the Thai form called 'Muay Thai'. Although she has faced certain training difficulties in the Commonwealth Village ahead of the games involving non-entry to her coach Sandhya Gurung, let us just hope that the bad experience doesn't dwell on her mind when she enters the ring on July 30.Not someone to throw in the towel easily,we can expect her to win a gold medal for India.
10. Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (Men's Doubles Badminton)
High on the Thomas Cup win against 14-time champions Indonesia, the men's duo of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy will be aiming for Gold in the Birmingham CWG 2022.The young shuttlers from South India gel well together and have played in major world events. Silver medallists of the Gold Coast CWG 2018, Satwik and Chirag have won eight BWF titles playing together. During their Olympic campaign, the duo had defeated world No.3 pair and eventual gold medallists Yang Lee and Chi-Lin Wang of Chinese Taipei in a thrilling match.Satwik and Chirag have performed exceedingly well in the last couple of years, winning the India Open title in 2022, Thailand open in 2019 and the French Open in 2019 which was a Super 750 event. Winning a gold in the CWG 2022 will be a herculean task but there is a strong possibility of the Indian National Anthem playing in the arena because of the duo.