With golds in badminton, India ends CWG on a high Latest News India

The last medal match to complete and bring the curtain down on the Commonwealth Games (CWG) on a hot Monday afternoon in Birmingham read: Australia 7, India 0 in men’s hockey. Apart from this unflattering scoreline, it was a fruitful Games for India.

Sports in which India has traditionally been strong in the CWG delivered while Indian athletes punched above their weight in some others. And then there were lawn bowls, slowly rolling up its way into the mainstream.

The Indian contingent pocketed 61 medals (22 gold, 16 silver, 23 bronze) to finish fourth, behind Australia, England and Canada. Thirty-five of the medalists were men, 23 women and three a combination of both. Also part of the club are three para athletes, with medals from para sports added to the overall tally at these Games.

The yardstick used to measure success at these Games is the four-year cycle. At Gold Coast 2018, India with 66 medals was placed third, the number of gold (26) significantly higher than Canada’s. Seven of them — and overall, 16 — came from shooting, which was excluded from the program for Birmingham.

India’s drop, therefore, wasn’t steep, and that’s down to the rest of the pack stepping up.

Arguably the most significant among the lot was athletics. Indians won eight medals in track and field, more than double from four years ago. Avinash Sable shattered the Kenyan stranglehold in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase, triple jumpers Eldhose Paul and Abdulla Aboobacker provided a rare 1-2 finish for the country and Tejaswin Shankar, landing here three days before his event after needing a court order to force the athletics. federation to clear his participation, scripted a dramatic climax Bollywood style.

The shuttlers signed off on Monday with three gold—the most ever by India—for a neat spread in women’s singles (through big tournament pro PV Sindhu), men’s singles (young and rising Lakshya Sen) and men’s doubles (the world-class combo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty).

Speaking of class, Sharath Kamal stood out. The 40-year-old is still ticking off CWG medals as if age doesn’t matter. His medal in each of the four men’s categories, three of them gold, single-handedly carried an Indian table tennis contingent that was unable to match its unprecedented eight-medal haul in Gold Coast. Manika Batra, who had won four in 2018, ended empty-handed, a far cry from her Gold Coast self.

Four years ago, the hockey players too had nothing to show with fourth place finishes. That was corrected. The men’s team lost the gold medal contest in the most lopsided manner yet returned with silver while the women won bronze, finally getting hold of a medal to pin their upswing in fortunes in the last few years.

Weightlifting (10 medals), wrestling (12) and boxing (7) continued to bring the wholesale medal bag home. Indians largely dominate in these sports at the CWG, making the odd medal-less exception of Lovlina Borgohain all the more glaring. For the likes of Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Amit Panghal battling their respective physical and mental issues after the Tokyo Olympics, this CWG medal was no less worthy. Ditto for Tokyo silver medalist Mirabai Chanu and reigning world champion Nikhat Zareen, who continued to stamp their class with the promise of much more.

That brings us to lawn bowls. Raise your hand if you followed the sport in India before the 2022 CWG. If you didn’t, thank the team of four unheralded women, who not just clinched a historic gold but also captured the imagination of a nation in a sport that had negligible presence in India before the 2010 Delhi CWG. Add the men’s team silver to the bolt-from-the-blue medals from lawn bowls.

India now have CWG medalists in cricket too. The women’s team, save the crumbling in the final against Australia, would cherish the silver medal and the experience of a Games.

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