“Worthless people live only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink only to live.”
Curtains have come down on the XXI Commonwealth Games. India’s national anthem was played 26 times, across seven venues, from the Belmont Shooting range in Brisbane to the Oxenford studios. India finished third in the medals tally with 66 medals (26 Gold, 20 Silver and 20 Bronze), bettering its showing in Glasgow 2014, where India finished fifth overall, by just two medals. In Glasgow, India claimed 15 Gold, 30 Silver and 19 Bronze. India’s best Gold tally of 38 came at home in 2010. This time maximum medals came from shooting (16), followed by wrestling (12) and weightlifting (9). The exuberance of youth, the endurance of experience and a bit of usual drama are some of the highlights of India’s 2018 Commonwealth Games campaign. The likes of MC Mary Kom, Seema Punia and Sushil Kumar showed that experience can never be discounted. While the shooters, weightlifters, wrestlers and the boxers were expected to bring home the maximum share of medal, there was a significant new addition to that in table tennis. From the teen shooting trio of Manu Bhaker, Mehuli Ghosh and Anish Bhanwala, the historic table tennis performance by Manika Batra to the arrival of a very confident Neeraj Chopra on the big stage, India had its next crop of stars ready to challenge the world.
One of the most significant high point of India’s performance at the Games this time has been the high number of Golds. While India bettered its overall performance at Glasgow by two medals, its Gold tally improved by 11. In wrestling, weightlifting, shooting, boxing, badminton and particularly table tennis, India dominated. There were world-class efforts from the Indians. Five-time world boxing champion Mary Kom, two-time Olympic medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar, world champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, 2016 world junior javelin champion Neeraj Chopra and teen shooting sensations Manu Bhaker and Anish Bhanwala produced splendid performances to clinch Gold. In badminton, the unexpected Gold in the mixed team event, the much-anticipated women’s final featuring PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, and the emergence of some doubles combinations were a few other high points.
There were, however, disappointments too, the biggest being the two hockey teams. The women managed to improve to fourth this time from fifth of the past two editions, but the men, Silver-medallists in 2010 and 2014 embarrassed themselves with a fourth-place finish. Manpreet Singh’s team lacked finesse and resolve, the lowest point of its campaign being a 2-2 draw with a Pakistan in shambles. Grapplers Babita Kumari Phogat, Pooja Dhanda and Olympic Bronze medallist Sakshi Malik were another set of disappointments of the games. Same is the story with shooters Chain Singh and Gagan Narang. Outside the sporting arena, India’s reputation took a beating when A.V. Rakesh Babu and K.T. Irfan were packed off from the Games for violation of the ‘no needle’ policy after needles were found in their rooms. It was an encouraging news that Assam girl Hima Das stood sixth in the final of women’s 400 metre event. Not to forget Hima made history by becoming the first Indian woman to be qualified for 400 meter race in the final of CWG. The 2018 Games proved a point beyond doubt that the future is perfect for India – new crop of athletes ready to conquer the world.