Ami Ghia and Kanwal Thakar Singh — First Indian women to win Commonwealth Games medal
Breaking the stereotype of only men bringing medals, Ami Ghia and Kanwal Thakar Singh became the first Indian women to stand at the CWG podium in 1978.
India marked their eighth Commonwealth Games appearance during the 1978 edition in Edmonton, Canada. They bagged a total of 15 medals including 5 gold, 4 Silver, and 6 Bronze and finished sixth in the overall medal tally.
Breaking the stereotype of only men bringing medals, Ami Ghia and Kanwal Thakar Singh became the first Indian women to stand at the CWG podium that edition at Edmonton.
Competing in the women's doubles section of badminton, Ghia and Singh clinched the bronze medal to achieve the feat of being the first Indian women to bag a Commonwealth Games medal.
After their loss to eventual champions from England Nora Perry and Anne Statt in the semis, Ami Ghia and Kanwal Thakar Singh gave it their all to defeat the then Jane Webster and Barbara Sutton in the bronze medal play-off.
Ami Ghia was known for her refined techniques whereas Kanwal was known to be an aggressive player. This combination proved to be tricky for all their opponents in 1978.
Ghia and Singh had no experience before the onset of the 1978 Commonwealth Games.
"It was a special medal for us because we would hardly get to play many international events and so the exposure was not that much. But before the Commonwealth Games, I got to play in a couple of international events and that helped in Edmonton," Ghia recalled in one of the media interactions post their historic podium finish.
Ami Ghia was also the youngest captain of the Indian Uber Cup team in 1977 before Saina Nehwal broke her record decades later. She was also a seven-time National singles Champion along with 12 doubles and 4 mixed doubles medals under her wing. Ghia was the first Indian woman to be ranked among the top 10 shuttlers in Grand Prix Circuit. She also served as a National selector for the Badminton Association Of India and was awarded the Arjuna award in 1976.
Kanwal Thakar Singh, on the other hand, won the bronze medal in teams and mixed doubles events later at the 1982 Asian Games. She became the Chief Patron Of the Chandigarh Badminton Player Welfare Association. Kanwal's badminton career came to a halt when she moved to America after her wedding in 1984. She was nominated for the Arjuna award in 1978.