Former nine-time national champion Aparna Popat on Thursday said India will win the maximum number of medals in the Commonwealth Games beginning next month. “Today India goes into the Commonwealth Games, as far as badminton is concerned, (as) definitely as the favourites. And what stands out is that we are not favourites in just the singles, Saina (Nehwal, (PV) Sindhu, (Kidambi) Srikanth, (HS) Prannoy doing well but across all events…,” the 40-year-old Popat said at a media conference organised by official broadcasters Sony and Sports Journalists’ Association of Mumbai.
“We have got champions in women’s doubles, in men’s doubles and the mixed doubles. Mixed doubles has been really showing good promise, so not only we are going to come back with individual medals but we are also going to get the gold (in doubles) and that is my firm belief,” she added. India have one of the strongest teams with shuttlers such as Olympic silver medallist P V Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth among others.
Popat said it will be an interesting affair in the doubles. “It is going to be interesting in doubles. In the men’s double, with Chirag (Shetty) and Satwiksaira (Rankireddy), they have performed all over the World, they have been consistently doing well. This will be their fist Commonwealth Games. How they handle the pressure and how they expectations, is sometime that you need to see,” she said.
Popat said that it could be a little tricky in the mixed doubles. “The Commonwealth Games, mixed doubles is challenging because Great Britain has a strong team. So Mixed double will be a little dicey, but I believe that we have a shot at Gold Medal across five (categories),” Popat said.
Meanwhile, ex-hockey skipper Viren Rasquinha believed the Australian men are favourites to bag the gold medal. “In the men’s team, Australia are the clear favourites. For bronze and silver (medal), it is going to be a very tough fight between New Zealand, Great Britain and India. I would say all these teams are at par and it will be down to those couple of days.
“It’s very close, but for men’s Australia are clear favorites,” Rasquinha said. The 37-year-old Mumbai-born player also felt that it was hard to predict winners in women’s hockey.
“In women’s, it is going to be very interesting. In the Asian Championship, where the Indian women won it was a far better performance than the men. For women, China, Japan, Koren all were ranked higher than India and India beat all of them.
The Indian women are doing well, but it is hard to predict because they have not played Australian and other big countries,” the former Olympian said.