India holds a lot of sporting memories when it comes to the Commonwealth Games. India and Commonwealth Games have a bitter-sweet relation – with uplifting, history-creating moments as well as controversies that marred the nation back in 2010. The Commonwealth Games fever is back as the Indian athletes are all geared up for the big sporting event in April.
Let us look back at the Top 10 moments for India at the Commonwealth Games:
Chak De! moment in 2002
The Indian women hockey team became the talk of the nation back in 2002 when they won a spectacular gold in Manchester. Led by Suraj Lata Devi, the Indian women hockey team first beat New Zealand 2-1 in semifinals and then went on to win against the hosts England with the golden goal in the final. The Indian hockey women’s performance in Manchester Commonwealth Games is also the inspiration behind Shah Rukh Khan’s movie Chak De India.
2010 Games controversy
Even though India produced their best performance at 2010 Commonwealth Games, the event was marred by corruption charges against politicians and authorities with New Delhi playing host. The event was highlighted by substandard work done by the organising committee led by Suresh Kalmadi which saw a series of delays as well as corruption charges. India won a total of 101 medals – the largest medal haul for the country – to convert the embarrassment into pride. This included heart-warming performances by Saina Nehwal, Geeta Phogat, Somdev Devvarman, Krishna Poonia, Alka Tomar, Anita Tomar and Gagan Narang, who secured four gold medals in shooting.
India’s shooting star – Abhinav Bindra
For India, one of the most popular names when it comes to big events is Abhinav Bindra, who has claimed four gold medals at the tournament. With a final games record score of 205.3, Bindra became India’s hero at Glasgow Commonwealth Games as he clinched his first individual gold medal at the tournament in 2014. The 2008 Olympic champion has fetched India a total of nine CWG medals including four golds in 10m Air rifle (pairs) in 2002 in Manchester, 10m air rifle (pairs) in 2006 in Melbourne, 10m air rifle (pairs) in 2010 in Delhi and 10m air rifle in 2014 in Glasgow.
It will be unfair to boast of Bindra’s laurels without mentioning Gagan Narang. In 2010, he paired with Bindra to win the 10-metre air rifle event. He then went on to win the individual 10-metre air rifle event. His two other gold medals at the 2010 tournament came in 50-metre air rifle three position events in both paired and individual categories. His 2006 CWG golds (4) also came in the same events. His partnership with Bindra did wonders there too as the duo won two golds together. He then went on to win 1 silver medal and 1 bronze medal in 2014.
Sushil is a two-time defending gold champion in the Commonwealth Games, winning the 66 kg freestyle title on his home turf in New Delhi in 2010 and the 74 kg freestyle title in Glasgow in 2014. It took Sushil just 107 seconds to clinch the gold medal in the men’s 74kg freestyle category in 2014, beating Pakistan’s Qamar Abbas in an one-sided affair. It was even more special for Sushil, who had to add nine kilograms to adjust in a new weight bracket after his pet 66 kg category was removed. It was Sushil’s first major international medal in 74kg.
Somdev Devvarman created history in 2010 when he won India’s first gold in tennis. He pipped Australia’s Greg Jones 6-4, 6-2 in the men’s singles final of the Commonwealth Games to claim the gold, which was even more special as tennis stars like Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza failed to strike gold. Somdev fell on his back in joy and got up to a thunderous applause from the home crowd. The summit clash lasted one hour 27 minutes.
Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal beat Malyasia’s Mew Choo Wong in the women’s singles final at 2010 Commonwealth Games to win gold for India. With the win, Saina became the nation’s first woman shuttler to win a Commonwealth Games gold.
First badminton gold in 1982
Back in 1982 Commonwealth Games, Syed Modi beat England’s Nick Yates 7-15, 15-5, 15-7 to win the Men’s singles title. It was India’s first gold in Badminton at the CWG. Even though his success at the tournament did not create much hype with the Indian media, his murder six years later did.
Shooting medals in 2006
India’s shooting stars shot 16 gold, 7 silver and 3 bronze at the 2006 CWG. Samaresh Jung became the hero for India as he won five golds, a silver and a bronze, earning the award ‘David Dixon’. Jung earned even more fame as his wife Anuja added another gold and silver to the family collection. Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang and the current Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore also added to India’s medal tally.
In the 60-year old history, the 1990 Commonwealth Games was probably India’s darkest event which saw their first athlete to fail a drug test. Weightlifter Subrata Kumar Paul, who had won two silver and a bronze, was disaqualified for using anabolic steroids. His medals were later taken back. This was followed by 2010 CWG doping incident when India athletic women’s team was disqualified for doping.