Commonwealth Games: Athletes get into the ring on Tuesday
Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra’s withdrawal was a huge blow but the Indian athletics team for the Commonwealth Games still has multiple medal contenders who will vie for top honour when the track and field events begin here on Tuesday.
Chopra will not be defending the javelin throw title he had won in the last edition in Gold Coast due to a groin strain he suffered during his silver-winning feat at the World Championships last month.
In his absence, the likes of long jumper Murali Sreeshankar, steeplechaser Avinash Sable, veteran discus thrower Seema Punia and javelin thrower Annu Rani are expected to step up and try to achieve glory in the multi-sporting spectacle.
India is also expected to win at least a medal from one of the three triple jumpers in Praveen Chitravel, Abdulla Aboobacker and Eldhose Paul, who made it to the World Championships final, as they are currently among the best performers in the Commonwealth this season.
With several world-class athletes emerging, especially after Chopra won a historic athletics gold in Tokyo Olympics last year, India would be looking for at least half a dozen medals in the Birmingham Games.
The country’s best athletics medal haul had come at the Delhi CWG in 2010 with 2 gold, 3 silver and 7 bronze medals. The Indian action will begin on Tuesday with men’s long jump qualifying round which will feature Sreeshankar and Muhammed Anees Yahiya.
National record holder Sreeshankar has been in fine form with 8m-plus jumps on many occasions this season though he failed to impress in his seventh-place finish in the World Championships final with a best jump of 7.96m.
A medal can be expected straightaway on the first day of competition from the veteran Seema and compatriot Navjeet Kaur Dhillon, the silver and bronze winners of the last edition, respectively. Seema is gunning for her fifth medal in as many appearances.
National record holder Manpreet Kaur will also be in action on Tuesday in women’s shot put qualifying round while star sprinter Dutee Chand will run in the 100m dash round one heats.