India’s medal winners from the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast started to arrive in numbers across the country and were given a warm welcome for their feat Down under. Leading squash players Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal arrived in Chennai on Monday night and were given a pleasant reception following their silver medal winning exploits in women’s doubles event. Pallikal also won a historic silver in mixed doubles alongside Saurav Ghosal.
Pallikal and Chinappa had bagged the gold medal in Glasgow in 2014 and there were thoughts of repeating that feat in Gold Coast. “Four years since, much has happened in squash. We were there on the podium then and the goal was not to miss that moment again. To that extent it was satisfactory finish,” said Chinappa. “We are encouraged to work harder for next big challenge, the Asian Games in August,” she added.
Pallikal said the big satisfaction was that they had not come back empty handed. They also believed that the umpiring could have been better at the Games. “After the final, even the New Zealand players agreed with us in this matter,” Chinappa said.
Their flight had arrived an hour late but that didn’t stop the fans and supporters from staying patient outside the airport arrival terminal. They were surprised with the reception. “We are more than surprised at this reception,” said Chinappa.
The coaches Harinder Pal Sandhu and national coach Cyrus Poncha also returned with the medal-winning duo.
On Monday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami had announced cash incentives for medal winners including Chinappa (Rs 30 lakh), Pallikal (Rs 60 lakh) and Ghosal (Rs 30 lakh).
Also included in the cash bonanza are table tennis players Sharath Kamal (gold in team, bronze in men’s singles and silver in men’s doubles) and Sathiyan G (gold in team, silver in men’s doubles and bronze in mixed doubles).
Meanwhile, the shooting contingent – which won 16 medals at the Commonwealth Games – was also felicitated in the capital with National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) chief Raninder Singh presiding over the meet. Jitu Rai, Heena Sidhu and Manu Bhaker were among the many shooters who were all smiles at the event.
Boxing team also arrived back home with Mary Kom gathering much of the attention. The veteran boxer won her maiden Commonwealth Games medal in her debut appearance at the event. The pugilists combined to win nine medals in Gold Coast.
“On behalf of the Indian Olympic Association, I would like to congratulate each and every athlete who participated in the Commonwealth Games and brought glory to the country. Their hard work has paid rich dividends and I can proudly say that we as a nation are on the right path to becoming a sporting powerhouse. This edition of the CWG has indeed been special for India with some of our youngest athletes doing us immensely proud with their outstanding performances and I would also like to make a special mention about our women athletes as they have set a huge benchmark, most of them breaking the stereotype. They are undoubtedly a major inspiration for several young women in the country,”said IOA President, Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra in a congratulator statement for the medal winners. “I wish all the athletes the very best in this Olympic cycle and hope they continue to improve upon their performance in the lead up to 2018 Asian Games and the 2020 Olympic Games.”