The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games are knocking on the door with less than a week to go before the Games start off on 28th July. With 215 athletes from India ready to hunt for glory at the multi-sporting extravaganza, it will start raining medals soon.
India finished with 66 medals at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and in 2022, with a strong contingent, the expectations are much more from the Indian side and the number of medals will shoot up, too.
Moreover, with an Olympic champion and other Olympic medallists in the fray – India is poised to do better than ever.
Let’s take a look at five of the top gold medal contenders for the Games from India.
A 2-time Commonwealth Games medallist and the reigning champion, weightlifter and Olympic silver medallist Mirabai Chanu will be looking to win her third medal in a row from the third-straight CWG she is going to take part in.
At the 2014 Glasgow Games, Chanu won a silver and in 2018, she upgraded to gold with a wonderful lift. Both the medals came in the 48kg category for the former World Champion.
At the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, Mirabai Chanu is a steady favourite to defend her title.
If anybody is currently on a roll, it is Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra who is having a fantastic season so far in 2022. At the Stockholm Diamond League last month, Chopra broke his own National Record by hurling the javelin to a massive 89.94m and was dangerously close to breaching the 90m mark.
At the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Chopra won the gold medal and in 2022, he will be entering as the favourite as well to defend his title, given the red-hot form he is currently in, especially with his performance at the ongoing World Athletics Championships in Oregon.
Indian badminton ace and double Olympic medallist PV Sindhu has practically every other honour on her plate but an individual Commonwealth Games gold continues to elude the former World Champion shuttler.
With consistency being her trademark, Sindhu will be heading into the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games after winning the Singapore Open Super 500 last week and therefore, in great form.
At the 2018 Games, Sindhu was in the finals but her chance at gold was snatched away by India’s first badminton poster girl, Saina Nehwal, who bagged the yellow metal after an intense final. In 2022, with Nehwal also missing, Sindhu will have gold on her mind from the Games.
Trusted Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia will be one to watch out for at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games as the Tokyo bronze medallist will be eager to defend his Commonwealth Games title from 2018.
Punia, medalled at the 2014 Glasgow Games as well and clinched silver in the men’s freestyle 61kg category. In the Gold Coast edition, Punia bagged gold in the men’s freestyle 65kg.
Coming into the Birmingham Games, the 28-year-old grappler will be looking to charge first and hold on to his title.
Special Mention: Although Vinesh Phogat has had a difficult last few months, a 2-time Commonwealth Games champion, she will be also one to watch out for a comeback and a potential hattrick of gold medals is also on the cards.
The ‘Golden Girl’ of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Manika Batra will be a key gold medal favourite in the 2022 edition as the talented paddler is expected to repeat her heroics from the last edition.
Batra bagged an individual gold medal from the women’s singles, a team gold in the women’s team event, a silver from the women’s doubles (with Mouma Das) and a mixed doubles bronze with Sathiyan Gnanasekaran from the 2018 Games – ending up medalling in all the four events she took part in.
Although Batra hasn’t had a major singles win in recent months, she comes to prime during Commonwealth Games and many expectations will be pinned on her shoulders, especially because she will be the most senior paddler on the women’s team side this time.