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In the last three editions, the Indian contingent has amassed a total of 215 medals – 50 in 2006, 101 in 2010 and 64 in 2014 – and thus it comes as no surprise that with a larger pool of athletes, many of whom are coming off very successful years, fans are expecting a string of podium finishes.
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Badminton, shooting, boxing and weightlifting are some of the disciplines where a rich haul of medals is expected. There’s a good mix of youth and experience amongst the Indian ranks.
Top 10 Indian medals prospects at CWG 2018
Here is a loot at some of the athletes who are among favourites to bring glory to the country.
PV Sindhu (Badminton)
Such are the expectations from the young Indian shuttler that a semi-final loss at the prestigious All-England Championships is considered a bad result. Sindhu, who will also be the flag-bearer for the Indian contingent, is the overwhelming favourite for a gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Sindhu’s biggest test could come in the form of Michelle Li and Kristy Glamour who won the gold and silver medal respectively in the previous edition of the Commonwealth Games. Sindhu, who was adjudged joint Badminton Player of the Year at this year’s Times of India Sports Awards (TOISA), won a bronze medal in Glasgow four years ago and would be looking to better it in Gold Coast. Her rise over the past two years has included that landmark silver medal at the Rio Olympics, and confirmed her as the queen of Indian badminton.
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Sakshi Malik (Wrestling)
Four years ago in Glasgow, Sakshi announced her arrival on the international stage by winning a silver medal. Two years later at the Rio Olympics, she became the first Indian woman wrestler to win a medal. A lot is riding on Sakshi as far as wrestling is concerned. She had a mixed bag in 2017 – winning gold at the Commonwealth World Championships but crashing out in the first round of the World Wrestling Championship – and will be looking to make things right in Gold Coast.
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Neeraj Chopra (Javelin)
Chopra, who has been training under former world record holder Uwe Hohn, is one of the brightest prospects in the Indian contingent. In 2017, the 20-year-old won a gold medal at the Asian Athletics Championship while breaking the men’s javelin meet record with an effort of 85.23 meters. He later won silver at the Asian Grand Prix in Jiaxing, China to qualify for the IAFF World Championships, where he unfortunately failed to qualify for the final. Chopra is the current junior world record holder, and with many top Indian athletes of yore singling him out of as once-in-a-lifetime javelin thrower, hopes are high from the youngster.
MC Mary Kom (Boxing)
She’s back for one final flourish and the legendary boxer would look at the Gold Coast CWG as perhaps the perfect swan song. A medal at the Commonwealth Games is missing from her impressive medal haul from all over the world, and at the age of 35, Mary Kom would know this is her last shot. In her return to competitive boxing last year, she regained her title of Asian champion by beating Hyang Mi Kim in the 48k final to claim her fifth gold medal at the Asian Boxing Championships. She might not be one of the favourites for the CWG, but if history is anything to go by, one can’t count out Mary Kom.
Saina Nehwal (Badminton)
Sindhu might have upstaged her as the premier female badminton player from India but the Hyderabad shuttler still is one of the best around. Injuries and indifferent form have scuppered her medal hopes in the past 18 months but Saina remains a threat to the best. In 2017, she won a bronze medal at the World Championships, a Grand Prix Gold and her third national title (where she beat Sindhu 21-17, 27-25 in the final). Visibly fitter since she returned to Dronacharya Pullela Gopichand’s academy late last year, Saina is a serious contender for glory in Gold Coast.
Jitu Rai (Shooting)
Shooting is a sport where India has some serious pedigree at the Commonwealth Games. India has won 56 gold medals in shooting and spearheading India’s challenge in Gold Cost will be Jitu Rai. The 30-year-old shooter will compete in the 50m pistol and 10m air pistol event. Jitu is amongst the more experienced shooters in the Indian contingent and would look to make amends after a disappointing performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Last year, Jitu won four gold medals and a bronze at ISSF events and two bronze medals at the Commonwealth Shooting Championships.
Kidambi Srikanth (Badminton)
It’s been a dream run for the TOISA Sportsperson of the Year, after scooping an unprecedented four Superseries titles in 2017. Building on the promise shown during his run to the quarter-finals of the men’s singles at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Srikanth made it large last year, winning the Indonesia Open, Australian Open, Denmark Open and French Open and moving to No 2 in the BWF men’s singles rankings.
In addition to these four Superseries wins, Srikanth reached the final of the Singapore Open where he lost to compatriot B Sai Praneeth (the first instance of two Indian shuttlers reaching a Superseries final), reached the quarter-finals of the Badminton World Championships and was runner-up at the National Badminton Championships.
Srikanth has made rapid strides in the world of badminton and should have his sights on emulating compatriot Parupalli Kashyap, who won gold at the 2014 CWG.
Sanjita Chanu (Weightlifting)
Sanjita Chanu is the defending champion at the Commonwealth Games, having won gold four years ago in Glasgow. Last year she won gold at the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships, thus becoming only the second Indian weightlifter after Karnam Malleswari to win gold at the competition. A new world record lift of 194kg – 85kg snatch and 109kg clean-and-jerk – in the women’s 48kg event broke her own existing record in the snatch event and has heightened expectations of further glory at Gold Coast. Sanjita, along with Mirabai Chanu, are amongst the top medal contenders for India in weightlifting.
Mehuli Ghosh (Shooting)
One of the youngest members of the Indian contingent, the teenager is making her Commonwealth Games debut. At 17, she is one of the rising stars on the Indian shooting circuit having won bronze at the ISSF World Cup in Mexico and another in the mixed team event, along with Deepak Kumar. The CWG will be the perfect platform for Ghosh to showcase her talent and continue her winning performances in the 10m Air Rifle event. A string of eye-catching performances over the past six months have shot this teenage prodigy into the limelight and marked her out as a serious medal contender at Gold Coast.
Vikas Krishan (Boxing)
On the comeback trail having been struck by injury and disciplinary issues over the past year, Vikas enters his first CWG with plenty of expectation behind him. This is, after all, an Asian Games gold medalist and a decorated pugilist the world over, who has put behind him the heartbreak of the 2012 London Olympics – where he was knocked out in the quarters on the basis of a video review – to make a name for himself. This year, the 26-year-old clinched a gold medal at the Strandja Memorial Tournament in Bulgaria and became the first Indian to be adjudged as the best boxer at the event.
Vikas will compete in the 75kg category and remains India’s best bet – along with Manoj Kumar – to win a boxing medal.