Medals cherry on the cake


India won 61 medals in Birmingham, including 22 gold. It did much better in 2010 in New Delhi — 101 medals, including 38 gold. In the next two editions, too, India’s numbers were better — 66 (including 26 gold) in 2018, and 64 (including 15 gold) in 2014. But the Birmingham haul is superior to that in the previous three CWG because India’s strongest sport, shooting, was absent from the menu this year. India had won 14 gold on the shooting ranges in 2010, seven in 2018 and four in 2014. India, as hosts in 2010, had also included archery in the programme, winning three gold. The thrilling spurt of speed with which Avinash Sable nearly caught Kenya’s Abraham Kibiwot in the final of the men’s 3,000m steeplechase was one of India’s best feats at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games (CWG). Sable didn’t win gold, but he got a silver in an event in which Kenyan athletes have been dominant — the last time Kenyan men did not make a clean sweep in the 3,000m steeplechase at the CWG was in 1994.
In Birmingham, Sable beat two Kenyans, ending up only 0.05 seconds behind Kibiwot. There was more good news in athletics the next day — Eldhose Paul and Abdulla Aboobacker did a 1-2 in men’s triple jump and Praveen Chithravel finished fourth. Before that, Tejaswin Shankar had won a bronze in high jump and Murali Sreeshankar a silver in long jump. These medals must be cherished because competition in athletics at the CWG is tougher than, say, at the Asian Games. Since Milkha Singh’s feats in 1958, India has won only five athletics gold at the CWG in 64 years. What Paul, Sable, Aboobacker and the others did in Birmingham is very creditable. India’s wrestlers did very well, bringing in a medal in each weight category. Boxing presents a tough competition at the CWG, and the three gold by Indian boxers were well earned, and the 21-year-old Nitu Ghanghas is one to keep an eye on. The ageless Sharath Kamal, 40, won the men’s table tennis gold after a 16-year gap, and two other gold in team and mixed events. As expected, India dominated in badminton.

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