With 26 Gold medals, 20 silvers and 20 bronze, India had a super Commonwealth Games 2018. Many youngsters made us proud, and veterans were not far behind. Their experience ensured that we will have fond memories of the tournament at Gold Coast.
I call them the “Golden Oldies”, a term of love and respect, rather than any reference to age. Here is my list of India’s Golden Oldies of the recent tournament.
MC Mary Kom
At 35, 5 time World Champion, Olympic (bronze) medallist and Parliamentarian MC Mary Kom made a comeback to the international boxing scene by entering her 1st Commonwealth Games. In the women’s 48 kg boxing final she outclassed Kristina of Northen Ireland 5 Nil in a one sided bout.
Thank you 1998 Asiad gold medallist Dingko Singh for inspiring Mary Kom to shift from Athletics to boxing.
Sharath had recently claimed a record equalling 8th National singles TT title and had modestly said that Kamlesh Mehta’s record and achievement was greater as he had to face intense competition which was lacking now.
In 2006 Sharath had claimed the Commonwealth Games singles title and more than a decade later in 2018, it was his rich experience which saw India knock out defending champions Singapore in the semi-finals. Sharath defeated both his tough opponents and these 2 wins were crucial for the 3-2 win. This was the final before the final and indeed in the finals India easily won 3-0 against Nigeria.
37 year old Sanjeev Rajput, who is a sailor in the Indian Navy has been representing India in shooting since 2004. In the CWG, he won a bronze at Melbourne in 2006, a silver at Glasgow in 2014 and improved to Gold medal in the 50m free rifle event in the recent Games at Gold coast. At the Asian Games too he has excelled for the country by winning 2 Bronzes and a Silver.
What was highly creditable about the Gold at Gold coast is that Sanjeev broke the CWG record both in the qualification round as well as in the final.
While Sanjeev Rajput is a navy officer, Tejaswini Sawant is a navy officers daughter. She had caught public imagination when in 2006 she was selected to represent India in the Commonwealth Games ahead of Asian Games gold medallist Anjali Bhagwat.
In 2006 she had won 2 gold medals. Now 12 years later, Tejaswini once again won Gold in the 3 positions 50m rifle event and a silver in the 50m rifle prone event.
In 2010, Tejaswini had become a world champion by winning gold at the Munich world championships. We indeed are proud of this veteran.
34 year old Sushil Kumar won the gold medal in the 74 kg men’s freestyle which was his 3rd straight Gold at the Commonwealth Games. He defeated Johannes Botha of South Africa in a one sided final. In fact, in the entire tournament Sushil did not lose a single point.
Sushil’s greatest achievements will always be the Bronze medal in 2008 Olympics and Silver medal in 2012 Olympics whereby he became our country’s 1st double Olympic medallist. At the 2010 World Championships he became world champion as well.
What was heartening about India’s wrestling contingent for Gold Coast is that all 12 wrestlers returned with medals, namely 5 Golds, 3 silvers and 4 bronze medals.
Ashwini Ponnappa was called the star and champion of the Indian badminton contingent to Gold Coast by inspirational coach Gopichand. Ashwini played as many as 4 matches daily for 10 days which according to the coach was phenomenal. Gopichand went on to say that winning the team gold was not something he had dreamt of and the 1st win in the mixed doubles ( with Satwik) in which Ashwini played a crucial role was vital.
Ashwini ended with a team gold and a bronze as well in women’s doubles. She showed herself as a team person by giving full credit to Satwik and saying she had to give the best possible support to him as he had a really terrific smash , from all angles of court, including weird angles.
Congrats Ashwini, Dengue stopped you at Rio. However i am sure you will be a star at the 2020 Olympics. All the best.
Saina has been instrumental in ushering in a badminton revolution in the country. It was a matter of huge pride that she and Sindhu played the finals of the ladies singles. Saina who is world no.12 upset world no.3 Sindhu in straight games. It was the 1st time 2 Indians played in the finals of a major event.
Hearteningly for Indian Badminton, Sindhu has said that she will roar back. It would be great if both these lionesses play in the finals of the 2020 Olympics
Saina also played a major part in winning the team championships. Her win over Soniah Cheah won India the team gold. Saina echoed her coach’s words by saying that the team gold gave her more satisfaction than the individual gold as it was very challenging to win against Singapore and Malaysia.
Thank you “Golden Oldies”. I repeat, it is only an address of love and affection. I am sure you all will be around in the 2020 Olympics and make us proud.