September 25, 2022
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Grading India’s sports-wise performance at CWG 2022

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India’s largest ever contingent at the 2022 Commonwealth Games returned with an impressive 61-medal haul. Now that we’ve had a day to reflect, the post-mortem can truly begin.

Here’s how ESPN rated the performance of India’s sporting contingents in Birmingham:

Athletics – Grade: A

38 athletes, 8 medals – India’s best medal haul at the Commonwealth Games in athletics since the 2010 edition in Delhi. Avinash Sable’s silver medal went viral; Eldhose Paul and Abdulla Aboobacker gave us the rare sight of a double podium for India in athletics; Murali Sreeshankar and Tejaswin Shankar leapt long and high into the Birmingham night sky – this was a memorable games for India’s athletic contingent. *And they did it without Neeraj Chopra*

TL;DR: Exceeded expectations.

Read more: Accountant and now a CWG medallist: Tejaswin Shankar won bronze after winning bigger battle to reach Birmingham

Badminton – Grade: B

India won a medal in every badminton event barring mixed doubles, and while the medals were the same in number when compared to 2018 (6), there were more gold medals on offer this time around (3 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze). PV Sindhu, Lakshya Sen and Saitwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty waltzed their way to the top of the podium with little fuss, making the silver in the mixed team event all that more frustrating. 19-yr-olds Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand won an exhilarating bronze that’s perhaps a sign of things to come.

Yet, with the absence of most top countries/players from the BWF Tour in the Commonwealth Games, this is perhaps the minimum one could have expected from a contingent that had enhanced their reputation ahead of the games.

TL;DR: Met expectations.

Boxing – Grade: B-

Three of the four women in the twelve-member boxing contingent returned with medals, with Olympic medallist Lovlina Borgohain disappointing and appearing worryingly rusty. Nikhat Zareen, Nitu Ghanghas and Amit Panghal underlined their reputations with gold, while Sagar Ahlawat has arguably been the boxing discovery of these Games, having only taken to the sport five years ago. The seven medal haul is down from 2018’s nine, but still a fair return.

TL;DR: Met expectations. Just about.

Read more: Nikhat Zareen is a champion: World, CWG and of her own space

Cricket – Grade: A-

There’s no point reliving *that* heartbreaking final, although for the masochists among you, the report is here. The Indian women’s cricket team’s Australian bogey continued, but a silver medal is still a tangible return, which should hopefully improve the future of the oft-neglected women’s cricket scene in India. Fingers crossed, anyway.

TL;DR: Exceeded expectations. Just.

Cycling – Grade: B

There wasn’t much expected of India’s cycling contingent pre-games, and there won’t be much expected post-games. As harsh as that sounds, the fact that even making the finals of most events proved tough for the 13 cyclists featuring is sobering. L Ronaldo Singh and David Beckham E will be disappointed that they return with the Indian audience knowing them more for the novelty of their names, rather than their feats.

TL;DR: There were no expectations.

Gymnastics – Grade: B

See cycling above. Some absolutely beautiful images of them, though.

TL;DR: There were no expectations.

Hockey – Grade: A-

Oh boy. Where do we begin? The dramatic shootout controversy for the women’s side against Australia that left Savita Punia in tears? Or the shootout redemption a day later, that left Savita Punia in tears, happy this time. It’s a first medal for the women’s side in ages, and a much deserved one too.

The men’s side continued their upward progress post the Tokyo Olympics and FIH Pro League campaign, appearing a more cohesive outfit as the days went on… before running into Australia (AGAIN). They were eviscerated in the final, and that silver, while impressive, looks a tad more silver than silver usually does.

TL;DR: Exceeded expectations.

Read more: India win hockey bronze as Savita Punia shakes off shootout bogey

Judo – Grade: A-

Grip, kick, ippon. Most of Shushila Devi Likmabam’s bouts went this way, until the final. She had come for gold and returned with silver – the pain writ large on her face even in the medal ceremony. Tulika Maan had similar things to say after her silver as well, but impressed on her CWG debut. With Vijay Kumar Yadav’s bronze, it’s a medal shy of 2014’s return (2 silver, 2 bronze; Judo did not feature in 2018), but Indian judokas should be happy with their performances overall.

TL;DR: Exceeded expectations. Slightly.

Lawn Bowls – Grade: A+

Lovely Choubey, Pinki, Nayanmoni Saikia and Rupa Rani Tirkey – names burned into a nation’s memory as the quartet earned the most unexpected of gold medals in women’s fours. The men’s fours team of Sunil Bahadur, Navneet Singh, Chandan Kumar Singh and Dinesh Kumar also earned silver later.

From being an afterthought to enthralling India in memorable finals that had most scrambling for the rulebook – this was utterly, utterly superb.

TL;DR: There were no expectations. Totally awesome.

Read more: Bowling them over: Fab four rip up stereotypes to give India historic medal

Squash – Grade: B

Saurav Ghosal became India’s best ever male squash player, earning the nation’s first ever singles CWG medal after a long, long career. It’s no wonder he was overcome by emotion, and his bronze with Dipika Pallikal Karthik (returning to the sport after giving birth), only underlined his legend. Joshna Chinappa will be disappointed to have returned empty-handed after raising hopes with a doubles gold in the Worlds earlier this year.

TL;DR: Some exceeded expectations. Some fell short.

Swimming – Grade: B-

Srihari Nataraj enhanced his reputation with a string of finals appearances – not usually the case for India. The rest of the contingent struggled, expectedly, but made a good fist of it nonetheless.

TL;DR: Met expectations.

Table Tennis – Grade: B+

Achanta Sharath Kamal. 40 years young. CWG legend. Medalled in every event he was involved in. At the other end we have Manika Batra, who returned empty-handed after her heroics in 2018 – what a difference four years makes. G Sathiyan, Sanil Shetty, Harmeet Desai and Sreeja Akula were also involved as the Indian table tennis contingent brought in a rich haul of medals, although it wasn’t the most intimidating of fields in the absence of China.

Bhavina Patel and Sonal Patel made it another double podium for India in para table tennis.

TL;DR: Would have been a lower grade but Bhavina’s para TT heroics bump it up a notch.

Read more: Sharath Kamal in numbers – the Indian table tennis GOAT

Triathlon – Grade: C

India’s four-member strong triathlon contingent were all making their CWG debut, including 16-yr-old Sanjana Joshi. There were faint hopes of Pragnya Mohan pulling off a surprise, but overall, the quartet did not move the needle.

TL;DR: Short of expectations.

Weightlifting – Grade: B+

Mirabai Chanu’s smile, Jeremy Lalrinnunga’s coming-of-age moment, Achinta Sheuli’s inspiring path to gold, Sanket Sargar braving injury to earn silver on debut – India’s 15-member strong weightlifting contingent returned with 10 medals (1 better from 2018), while Sudhir also earned a gold in para powerlifting. Yet, in the absence of Eastern-European heavyweights and China, this was an expected return.

TL;DR: Do you even lift? Yes, very well. Met expectations.

Read more: It was Mirabai vs Mirabai, and there could be only one winner

Wrestling – Grade: A-

12 wrestlers, 12 medals. One could argue Indian wrestlers had it tougher in the national trials to make it to the games. Still, one can only beat what’s in front of them, and Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Ravi Kumar Dahiya, Deepak Punia, Sakshi Malik and Naveen Malik had little trouble rolling around on the mat, wrestling their opponents into submission and winning gold in seconds.

TL;DR: Exceeded expectations. Met them if the expectations were high to begin with.



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