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Sans shooting stars, India adds many firsts at Birmingham Commonwealth Games

Olympic medallist Mirabai Chanu had won India's first gold at Birmingham Commonwealth Games on July 30 (Image courtesy: Twitter/@mirabai_chanu)

India finished the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games at the fourth position in the medals tally with 61 medals (including 22 gold, 16 silver and 23 bronze) and behind top-placed Australia (overall 178 medals), second-ranked hosts England (176 medals), and Canada (92 medals).

This is India's only fifth-best showing at the quadrennial event, way behind the rich haul of 101 medals won at home in Delhi in 2010.

However, with disciplines like shooting, archery, and Greco-Roman wrestling not part of the Birmingham Games – which won't be around at Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games in Australia as well – the Indian contingent did considerably well to finish in the top four.

At Gold Coast in 2018, Indian shooters won the maximum medals – 16 in total with seven of them being gold.

Going further back, out of the 101 won at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, the shooters had clinched 30.

Not to be deterred by the circumstances, Indian athletes conquered new frontiers.

Of course, who would have imagined that India will be winning two medals in the Lawn Bowls competition at CWG 2022, including a gold?

Cricket, which returned to the Commonwealth Games for the first time in 24 years, saw the Indian women's team narrowly missing gold to Australia in the final.

The massive achievement of India’s Eldhose Paul and Abdulla Aboobacker winning gold and silver in the men’s triple jump final is also a new glorious chapter added to the history of Indian athletics now.

Spearheading India's medal hunt were the weightlifters with Olympic medallist Mirabai Chanu, who won India's first gold at Birmingham on July 30, leading from the front.

Weightlifters Anchita Sheuli (gold), Jeremy Lalrinnunga (gold), Sanket Mahadev Sargar (silver), Gururaja Poojary (bronze), Bindyarani Devi (silver), and Harjinder Kaur (bronze) added more weight to the Indian medals tally with their stupendous show as judokas Shushila Devi Likmabam (silver) and Vijay Kumar Yadav (bronze) also rose to the occasion.

Indian men's table tennis team defeated Singapore 3-1 in the finals as Lovely Choubey, Pinki, Nayan Moni Saikia, and Rupa Rani Tirkey won the country's first gold in lawn bowls.

As the shuttlers began their campaign, India had to settle for a silver in the mixed team competition, beaten 3-1 by Malaysia.  

35-year-old Saurav Ghosal won India's first ever singles squash medal, a bronze, at the CWG after beating James Willstrop 3-0.

Indian para-powerlifter Sudhir Singh won India another gold medal in the men's heavyweight division.

After Tejaswin Shankar became the first Indian to win a medal in the high jump event at the Commonwealth Games, Murali Sreeshankar won a silver in the men's long jump final, registering a best jump of 8.08m. Later, Avinash Sable, grabbed a silver in the 3000 metres steeplechase event to script history.

As the wrestling competitions started, Indian wrestlers dominated the proceedings on the mat winning six medals on the opening day itself. Another six followed on day two of the event.

Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Deepak Punia, Ravi Kumar Dahiya, Vinesh Phogat, and Naveen Malik struck gold while Anshu Malik won a silver and Divya Kakran, Mohit, Pooja Gehlot, Pooja Sihag and Deepak Nehra (all bronze) made it sure that India won medals in all the 12 categories.

All this while, veteran Sharath Kamal was continuing his brilliant run, winning another gold medal in the men’s singles table tennis after the mixed doubles gold with Sreeja Akula and the men's table tennis team's top finish earlier.

"The best two weeks of my 40 years of life," said the 40-year-old.

Boxers Nitu Ghanghas, Amit Panghal, and reigning world champion Nikhat Zareen won golds while Harmanpreet Kaur-led Indian women's team settled for a silver in women’s T20 cricket competition and the women's hockey team too won a bronze. 

The final day at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games saw India adding as many as four gold medals, one silver, and a bronze.

Though the Indian men's hockey team put up a disappointing show, going down 0-7 to mighty Australia in the gold medal match,  star shuttler PV Sindhu – who had won a bronze in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and a silver at the 2018 Gold Coast – won the gold with a stunning 21-15, 21-13 win over Canada's Michelle Li.

Immediately after, young gun Lakshya Sen clinched the gold medal with a 2-1 (19-21 21-9 21-16) triumph against Malayasia's Tze Yong.

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty also won their first CWG men's doubles gold while paddler Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, bagged his first CWG singles medal, a bronze, to end the Indian campaign at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Also Read: India celebrates gold rush at CWG as Sindhu and Lakshya triumph