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At CWG, India’s track and field athletes made a mark, women’s cricket and hockey teams showed they are on right track

For India, the Commonwealth Games give a chance to assess how they are likely to fare when tougher assignments come along.

The camaraderie and affection they displayed proved that sport can indeed be a vehicle to bring people closer. That’s what adds to the relevance of the Commonwealth Games.

Another edition of the Commonwealth Games is over, and though some would term it a relic of the past and an anachronism, Birmingham showed it remains relevant. Colonial legacy and history are sensitive subjects — in the UK as well as the erstwhile outposts of the British Empire — and many argue that nations don’t need to be reminded that they were once subjugated. But giving a sporting platform for elite athletes to showcase their prowess is a good enough argument for these Games, even if the level of competition in many sports is a few rungs below what is seen at the Olympics, the World Championships or even the continental Games.

For India, the Commonwealth Games give a chance to assess how they are likely to fare when tougher assignments come along. In Birmingham, the performance of India’s track and field athletes came as a breath of fresh air. Triple jumper Eldhose Paul and 3,000m steeplechaser Avinash Sable showed they can mix it with the best in the world. The latter took on, and left behind, a few Kenyans, considered the royalty in middle- and long-distance races. Weightlifting, table tennis and badminton were other sports which provided big medal hauls to India. And though, on the mat, the competition was arguably weaker than what is seen in domestic trials, there were other commendable achievements.

At 40, paddler Sharath Kamal continues to mint medals, while a sport previously unknown in India, lawn bowls, also added to the country’s gold tally. Boxer Nitu Ghanghas, whose father has been on unpaid leave for three years and is facing a departmental inquiry for long absenteeism to look after his daughter’s blooming career, showed the kind of sacrifices needed for sporting glory at the elite level. They didn’t necessarily have to win gold to point to a bright future. The women’s cricket and hockey teams showed that they are on the right track to be considered one of the best in the world. Any such event is a kaleidoscope of emotions and memories, and one of them that will stay is the bonhomie shared by Pakistani weightlifter Muhammad Nooh Dastgir Butt and India’s Gurdeep Singh, both of whom finished on the podium in the 109kg-plus category. The camaraderie and affection they displayed proved that sport can indeed be a vehicle to bring people closer. That’s what adds to the relevance of the Commonwealth Games.

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First published on: 10-08-2022 at 04:20:47 am
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