India is ranked 4th in the all-time medal tally list of the Commonwealth Games (CWG) with 564 medals (203 gold, 190 silver, 171 bronze) and ranked 5th in the all-time medal tally of the Asian Games with 672 medals (155 gold, 201 silver and 316 bronze).
Over the years, both the competitions have provided an equal share of euphoria and heartbreak for India. In this article, we have short-listed five sport disciplines and analysed whether there is a disparity in the level of competition at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games and if that consequently, influences India’s success.
ATHLETICS - harder in CWG
At the Commonwealth Games (CWG), India has only been able to secure 28 medals in athletics. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as unlike in the Asian Games, Indian athletes are up against athletes stemming from nations such as Australia, England, Kenya, Jamaica, and Canada. Consequently, India could secure only 8 medals in the field of Athletics in the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Whereas at the Asian Games, it is a complete juxtapose. Atletics has undoubtedly been the most successful field for India in the continental event. The country has accumulated 254 medals – 195 more medals than the second-most successful discipline for India. In fact, at the last edition of the Asian Games, held at Jakarta, almost 40% of Indian track and field athletes found themselves on the prestigious podium.
Despite the glaring disparity in the competition quality, marquee athletes such as Murali Sreeshankar and Neeraj Chopra, among others have started to cement their podium position at international meets and competitions, keeping the Indian flag flying high in the world of global athletics.
WRESTLING - harder in Asiad
In relation to India’s performance in athletics at the two competitions, it is a contrasting tale. Here, India excels at the Commonwealth Games, securing 102 medals over the course of the competition. Only Canada is more successful than India when it comes to wrestling at the CWG.
Meanwhile, in the wrestling arena at the Asian Games, India faces more stubborn competition in the shape of South Korea and Iran. A higher quality of wrestling in the Asian sub-continent is prevalent in the fact that India secured only 3 medals in wrestling at the last edition of the Asian Games in comparison to the 12 medals in wrestling at CWG 2022. Overall, India has achieved 114 medals at the Commonwealth Games and 59 medals at the Asian Games when it comes to wrestling.
WEIGHTLIFTING - harder in Asiad
It was India’s pride and backbone Mirabai Chanu’s silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics that grasped the attention of the Indian diaspora towards the world of weightlifting. But one may often overlook the remarkable performances of Indian weightlifters at the Commonwealth Games. With 133 medals (43 gold medals), India is second in the all-time medal list of the Commonwealth Games in the discipline of weightlifting. In fact, weightlifting was the second-most successful discipline for India at the CWG 2022, with stellar performances preceding 10 medals for the national contingent.
But when we look at India’s weightlifting performances at the Asian Games, a different perspective materialises. With competitors such as World Champion Jiang Huihua and Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion Hou Zhihui, it is no mere task to outperform such powerhouses at the Asian Games. With a history of record-breaking juggernaut performances from nations such as Kazakhstan, Iran and China, India has not been able to make it to the podium in over two decades.
With 5 silver medals and 9 bronze medals, India awaits the taste of gold at the Asian Games. Could the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games be one for the history books?
BOXING - at par
When it comes to battling it out within the four-sided boxing ring, India has weaved a similar pattern of success at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. With a tally of 57 medals (9 gold) at the Asian Games and 44 medals (11 gold) at the Commonwealth Games, it doesn’t depict much disparity when it comes to the quality of boxing at the two competitions. India ranks 10th in the all-time medal tally in boxing at the CWG and 8th in boxing at the Asian Games.
At the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Indian boxers reached new heights, returning home with three gold, silver and bronze medals with Nikhat Zareen and Amit Panghal as the stand-out performers. The recent edition of the CWG is a watershed moment in the history of Indian boxing as with impeccable performances, women boxers and potential-laden young boxers have started to demand their share of the limelight.
HOCKEY - harder in CWG
We thought that we could not complete this analysis without analysing the national sport of India. It is a tale of two genders when it comes to hockey.
The women’s hockey national team received their much-deserved flowers after their remarkable resurgence over the last few years. The women successfully bagged the bronze medal at the 2022 CWG in addition to making it to the semi-finals of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Their recent string of impressive performances instils hockey fans of India with hope to repeat the glorious 2002 campaign which saw the team win gold at the 2002 CWG.
The men’s national team undoubtedly embody to potential to out-play their continental counterparts and often do so at the Asian Games. But when it comes to the CWG, hockey stalwarts in the shape of Australia, England and South Africa have ensured that gold evades India. Australia is a serial-killer at the CWG’s, successfully bagging gold at each edition of the CWG.
India has secured 21 medals (3 gold) at the Asian Games in comparison to the 6 (1 gold) at the CWG. Majority of the medals stem from the era preceding the introduction of artificial turfs which completely revamped the sport of hockey, neutralised the playing style of India and provided the edge to Western nations.
Based on the aforementioned data analysis on India's best performing sports, we can establish that there is no definite answer to which competition poses a more difficult outing for India.
In sports such as hockey and athletics, the Commonwealth Games undoubtedly poses competition of a superior quality. Whereas, the Asian Games embodies greater powerhouses in the fields of weightlifting, wrestling and alike.
Disparities and similarities certainly exist but the flourishing resurgence of India's sporting blood has ensured that India is well on its way to become a stalwart in the world of global sports.