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India aiming for a top-five finish

Glasgow: The unprecedented success achieved in the last edition, at home in New Delhi, would be hard to replicate this time after the dropping of a few disciplines, but upbeat after getting back in the Olympic fold, a 215-strong Indian contingent would nonetheless seek a top-five finish in the 20th Commonwealth Games, which begin here on Wednesday.

India finished second behind Australia with a record 101 medal haul, in a Games marred by corruption scandals and construction delays. But finally it was praised for the stunning success in terms of delivery of the event and performance by the athletes.

The Delhi CWG triggered an ascent in sports achievements with another record-breaking show in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou where India won 65 medals. Two years later, the country won six medals in London — almost half of the individual medals won in India’s Olympic history. But in Glasgow, the most realistic target for India would be a third-place finish with the top spot expected to go either to Australia or England.

India will compete in 14 sports, and their contingent this time is the largest ever after 2010 Delhi CWG. However, with the scrapping of archery and tennis from Glasgow Games, and the reduction in the number of medal events in shooting and wrestling, the medal prospects have gone down drastically.

India had won 12 medals from archery and tennis in 2010, while bagging 14 medals from the 18 events dropped this time from shooting. Greco-Roman wrestling, in which India won eight medals in 2010, has also been done away with in Glasgow.

Indian sportspersons, however, are all set to give of their best. Medal winners in the last Games — Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Vijender Singh, Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Krishna Poonia, Ashish Kumar and Achanta Sharath Kamal — are ready to prove their mettle once again.

Shooters are still expected to earn a major chunk of medals, though 18 events have been dropped. In New Delhi, 30 medals came from shooting. The country will again look up to the likes of Bindra, Narang, Vijay Kumar and Heena Sidhu to deliver.

The wrestlers are expected to bring in around 10 medals, though Greco-Roman has been dropped.

Olympic medallists Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt will lead the campaign and both, though fighting in new weight classes due to tweaking of categories by world governing body FILA, would be looking for gold in 74kg and 65kg freestyle respectively.

In hockey, India are hoping for atleast one medal from the men or the women’s team.

Indian men won a silver in 2010 CWG after a humiliating loss to Australia in the final. This time, they will have to beat either New Zealand or England in the semi-finals, if they reach that stage, to make it to the title round.