CWG 2022: Why India can expect biggest ever Athletics gold haul
Not just Neeraj Chopra, there will be three other Athletics events in the Commonwealth Games this year where Indians are expected to win gold.
The 37-member Indian Athletics contingent heading to Birmingham for the 2022 Commonwealth Games is different from past contingents for two big reasons.
One, unlike ever before, an Olympic gold medallist - Neeraj Chopra - is part of the team. Secondly, there are several others in the contingent who are set to win gold, going by best performances for the season by athletes from CWG countries.
India have won a total of five gold medals in the history of Commonwealth Games in Athletics - Milkha Singh (1958), Krishna Poonia and 4*400m women's relay team (2010), Vikas Gowda (2014) and Neeraj Chopra (2018).
This year, it can be predicted there are three definite gold medal prospects other than Neeraj Chopra. The javelin champion who scripted history in Tokyo, on the other hand, is placed second among CWG countries for best throws of the season. Grenada's Anderson Peters came up with the world's season-leading throw of 93.07m in the Doha Diamond League Meet last month, but has seen a dip in form since then.
Fittingly for the Javelin wave that the country has felt since last year, one of the other leading gold medal contenders is Annu Rani. Rani rewrote her own national record in Women's Javelin Throw last month with 63.82m. This was the fifth best in the world and the best among CWG countries.
Only two others from CWG countries have crossed 63m this season - Elizabeth Gleadle of Canada (63.33m) and Mackenzie Little of Australia (63.18m)
Murali Sreeshankar's mark of 8.36m at the Federation Cup this year also makes him a prime contender for gold in Men's Long Jump. This month, he recorded 8.23 at the National Inter State Senior Athletics Championships. Both marks are the best among CWG countries for the season and are set to be good for gold at the 2022 CWG.
Apart from Javelin and Long Jump, the other gold medal event for India this year will be the Triple Jump. This event has seen a burst of talent from the country this year.
Only five Indian triple jumpers have breached the 17m mark in history. Three of them have done it this year. As a result, the three best performances of the season between CWG countries are all by Indians - Abdulla Aboobacker, Praveen Chitravel and Karthik Unnikrishnan. This event at the 2022 CWG could mirror the Women's discus throw event in the 2010 CWG, when Indians had made a clean sweep of all three medals.
Avinash Sable (3000m steeplechase), the 4*400m Men's relay team and Aishwarya Babu (Women's Triple Jump) are the other contenders for medal places from among the Indian contingent.