Commonwealth Games 2022: 5 things that India could achieve for the first time
Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022: Five sports where Indians could script some historic finishes this year.
A lot of eyes will be on old favourites like PV Sindhu and Mirabai Chanu as India begin their 2022 Commonwealth Games campaign in Birmingham on Friday, but some names who have flown under the radar could also end up with historic achievements at these Games.
India will find it hard to match the 66 medals they won in 2018 due to shooting being dropped from the programme. However, some medals, if they can be won in CWG 2022, will be much more significant than the rush of medals from last time.
A first Hockey gold
At the 2018 CWG, both the men's and women's teams lost to England in the bronze-medal matches, but a lot has happened in Indian hockey since then. Following the bronze medal in Tokyo 2022, there have been hopes raised that the Men in Blue can win their first ever gold medal.
Australia have won the men's hockey gold all the six times that it has been played since 1998. India's best finish at the CWG have been as runners-up, both in 2010 and 2014. India are currently ranked 4 in the world. Australia are the only Commonwealth nation who are ranked higher.
This year, India's men's team have been drawn in Pool B alongside England, Wales, Canada and Ghana, which makes their pathway to the semifinals easy. While a medal can be expected from the team as a bare minimum, India will be looking to tilt the scales against Australia and win their first gold.
An individual gold in squash
The duo of Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa are favourites to win a women's doubles medals in squash, but it is in the singles draw that Indians could do something historic this time. The trio of Pallikal, Chinappa and Saurav Ghosal have been carrying Indian squash on their shoulders for the past decade and a half, but when it comes to the CWG, an individual gold medal has always eluded them. All three medals accruing to India in squash at the CWG have been in doubles events.
While Pallikal has not yet resumed playing singles since her return to the court, Chinappa and Ghosal would be looking to break India's jinx in singles at the CWG. Ghosal has been seeded third in the men's singles draw. Chinappa is seeded fourth in the women's singles draw.
First Cycling final
One of the sports that has been seeing a silent rise in India over the last few years is cycling. While medals in Birmingham would still be a far cry, given that most of the top cycling nations are part of the CWG, this might be the first time Indians progress from the qualification phase at these Games.
The India's men's team in sprint won the bronze medal in Asian Track Cycling with a time of 44.42 seconds this year, which would have been good to make the final at the 2018 CWG. If they can repeat a similar timing in Birmingham too, we can expect a first for Indian cycling.
In terms of individual cyclists, Ronaldo Singh broke the 10-second barrier in Elite Men Sprint in New Delhi last month with a time of 9.946 seconds, a time which would have placed at 15th at the 2018 CWG. He might end up being the first Indian getting close to a top-10 finish at the CWG.
Multiple para-sports medals
The introduction of para table tennis at the 2022 CWG gives India a great chance of an assured medal due to Bhavina Patel, who currently holds the world number one rank in mixed doubles.
Swimmers Suyash Jadhav and Niranjan Mukundan also stand a chance of getting into medals, while powerlifters Manpreet Kaur and Pramjeet Kaur also could take India's medal count up.
With so many medal prospects, this might turn out to be the first time India has more than one para-sports medal from a single edition of the CWG.
India will be sending a triathlon contingent for the first time to the CWG. Pragnya Mohan in 2019 became the first triathlete to represent India in the Triathlon World Cup, and this time will be looking to lead the Indian team at the CWG.
Pragnya has won a gold medal at the South Asian Games in the past, making her the first to qualify for the Triathlon World Cup. Earlier this year, she defended her South Asian Triathlon Championship, as India send their largest ever contingent in an international race. Can Pragnya Mohan lead India's triathlon revolution to the CWG now?