Commonwealth Games 2018: India's medal quest to open with Chanu

Commonwealth Games 2018: India's medal quest to open with Chanu

World champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu will be in focus but India's high-profile shuttlers and boxers will also be watched keenly when they open their campaign at the 21st Commonwealth Games here on Thursday.

Competing in the 48kg category, Chanu, who claimed a silver at the 2014 CWG, is being considered a sure shot medal prospect for India as her personal best of 194kg stands over 10kg more than her nearest rival in the competition.

Chanu had become only the second Indian weightlifter after Karnam Malleswari to emerge a world champion in November 2017 when she created a new world record of 194kg -- 85kg in snatch and 109kg in clean-and-jerk -- to lift gold at the World Championships in Anaheim, USA.

None of the lifters in her competition has touched even 180kg with her likely closest rival, Amanda Braddock of Canada, having a personal best of 173kg.

Also in action for India will be the shuttlers, boxers, the women's hockey team and the table tennis players among others.

The hockey team had finished fifth the last time around and will be beginning its campaign against Wales.

"We have practised hard for these Games, I hope the results will reflect that," coach Harendra Singh said.

The most star-studded Indian line-up in the Games, the badminton squad, has a busy schedule on the first competition day. The team will be in action in the mixed event and has clashes lined up against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Then there are the boxers. Only one of them -- the 2010 CWG gold-medallist Manoj Kumar (69kg) -- will be taking the ring on Thursday.

The veteran would be up against Nigeria's Osita Umeh in his opening clash.

On the squash court, Dipika Pallikal, Joshna Chinnappa, Sourav Ghosal and Harinder Pal Sandhu will kick off their singles campaigns.

Another controversy-hit squad from India in action is table tennis. One of their senior players, Soumyajit Ghosh, was dropped from the team owing to rape allegations, and the TT players would be eager to ensure that this CWG is best remembered for their exploits with the racquet.

While the women's team will square off against Vanuatu and Fiji, the men's team comprising the likes of veteran A Sharath Kamal and G Sathiyan will be facing Trinidad and Tobago and Northen Ireland.

Away from the spotlight and having dealt with their fair share of selection controversies prior to the Games, the Indian men's team of artistic gymnasts will be presenting their challenge on the opening day of competition.

The spotlight here will be on comeback-man Ashish Kumar, who had scripted history by becoming the first Indian gymnast to claim CWG medals. He had claimed a bronze in floor exercise and a silver in vault.

Plagued by injuries since Ashish would be aiming to reclaim the lost time with a strong showing here.

Also, there would be the cyclists even though medal expectations from them are not too high. Nonetheless, a certain Deborah Herold's name continues to evoke some curiosity despite the former Asian medallist's lack of any recent achievements.

The men's and women's basketball teams will also be playing their respective opening matches, against Cameroon and Jamaica.

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