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Commonwealth Games 2022: Neeraj Chopra-led Indian athletics team set for best performance after Delhi

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Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra will be in the limelight but players like Murali Sreeshankar and Avinash Sable are also strong contenders for medals as the Indian athletics team looks to be at its best away from home at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Women’s javelin thrower Annu Rani and discus thrower Seema Antil, 38, the most medalists in the CWG with three silvers and one bronze, could also end up on the podium, while India’s men’s triple medal tally could end up on the podium. Hopefully jump event.

With the emergence of several world-class athletes, especially after Chopra won the historic athletics gold at the Tokyo Olympics last year, India will be looking for at least half a dozen medals in the Games from July 28 to August 8.

The country’s best athletics medal came at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games with 2 gold, 3 silver and 7 bronze. It will certainly be difficult to match that performance but the Indians will be looking for their second best.

The Indian athletics contingent’s second best ever performance in the Commonwealth Games has been three medals (1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze each) in the 2014 and 2018 editions.

With all six finalists at the ongoing World Championships in Eugene, USA, heading to Birmingham, where the competition will be relatively easy, India will be imagining their chances of winning a handful of medals.

The country has so far won 28 medals (5 gold, 10 silver, 13 bronze) in all the editions since the legendary Milkha Singh won gold in the men’s 440 yards event in 1958.

Shekhar Dhanalakshmi, who competed in the women’s 100m and 4x100m relay, and Aishwarya Babu, who competed in the long jump as well as the triple jump, were dropped from the 36-member squad after failing a dope test that put the nation to shame. done. ,

Dhanalakshmi won’t have much chance in the 100m, but her absence will be a blow to the women’s 4×100 relay team, although India are not medal favorites in the presence of England, Jamaica, Canada and Australia.

Aishwarya could have been a bronze medal contender with a national score of 14.14m at the National Inter-State Championships last month.

Defending champion Chopra, however, is not sure of the gold medal as he will have to fight for the top honors against Grenada’s Anderson Peters. Peters finished third in the 2018 Gold Coast Games with a best throw of 82.20m while Chopra won the gold with a best throw of 86.47m.

Since then, Peters has won the 2019 World Championships gold and has thrown over 90 meters three times this year.

Chopra has beaten Peters twice, while the 24-year-old Grenadian won the Indian once in his three meetings so far this year.

India could win two medals in the men’s javelin throw as 2012 Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott, the third best among Commonwealth athletes after Peters and Chopra, struggles this season.

India’s DP Manu and Rohit Yadav, who along with Chopra made it to the finals of the World Championships, are next on the season’s list among Commonwealth athletes.

Manu won the gold at the National Inter-State Championships last month with a throw of 84.35m while Rohit qualified for his maiden final at the World Championships.

Joint second on the season’s list with his 8.36m, Sreeshankar is a firm favorite to win a medal in Birmingham. He was a medal contender at the World Championships but finished seventh with a best effort of 7.99m.

The disappointment of the World Championships may propel him to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games. His seventh place in the Worlds Final was the best among Commonwealth athletes, with Jamaica’s Wayne Pinnock and Australia’s Henry Frene finishing ninth and 12th respectively.

Another Indian long jumper, Mohammad Anees Yahiya, could also be in the race for a medal if he manages to score 8m, which he has done five times this season in March with a best of 8.15m.

Sable will have to fight again for top honors in the 3000m steeplechase against Kenya’s World Championships bronze medalists Consulas Kipruto and Abraham Kibivot.

Kibivot Eugene finished fifth in the slow and tactical race at the World Championships while Sable finished 11th. Kipruto and Kibivot had won gold and silver medals respectively in the last edition in Gold Coast.

India’s three triple jumpers, Praveen Chitravel, Abdullah Abubakar and Aldhos Paul, who made it to the finals of the World Championships, are the best performers among Commonwealth athletes this season.

Chitravel and Abubakar have crossed the 17m mark this season, and will be looking to improve after their disappointing performances at the World Championships, where they could only come up with 16.49m and 16.45m respectively.

After reaching the World Championship finals for the second time in a row, Annu Rani will look confident at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games as well. She will be up against the likes of Australia’s 2019 world champion Kelsey-Lee Barber, Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist and Canada’s Elizabeth Gladl for the top honours.

Women’s discus throw could also take India to two medals from Seema Antil and Navjit Kaur Dhillon, just like they won a silver and a bronze in the 2018 edition with 60.41m and 57.43m efforts respectively. Any distance over 60 meters is good for a CWG medal.

Antille is looking to win her fifth medal in the same number of events. She never returned empty-handed from the Commonwealth Games, although her best performance this season was an effort of 57.09m at Chula Vista, United States, a few days earlier.

Navjit Kaur Dhillon hasn’t crossed the 60m mark in May this year with a best of 58.03m, but in the weak zone, if she improves to her season best, she can win a medal.

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The marathon race, in which India’s Nitender Rawat will compete in the men’s event, will be held on July 30, while other track and field events will take place from August 2 to 7.

High jumper Tejaswin Shankar was not selected in the squad after violating the qualifying standard set by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), hence the selection drama. Following Shankar’s plea in the Delhi High Court, the AFI included him in the squad but the Birmingham organizers refused to accept it as the deadline for admission had already expired.

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