Men's hockey team target 1st medal, women's team 2nd gold

The men's team has never won a medal ever since hockey became a CWG discipline in 1998 while women's team has done way better than their male counterparts -- having already won a gold and silver in the last two editions respectively.

The men's team is eager to end its medal jinx and the women's team want to win back the title it surrendered in the Melbourne edition in 2006. Both the team have poor World Cup results this year but are determined to do well at the Games before the home crowd.

The men's team finished a disappointing eighth out of 12 teams in the World Cup held earlier this year at the Major Dhyan Chand National stadium, the venue for CWG hockey event.

Despite boasting eight Olympic gold, India has not won a single medal in the Games since hockey's introduction in the quadrennial event during the 1998 Kuala Lumpur edition. Indian men's team finished fourth in Malaysia, did not take part in 2002 edition in Manchester and ended on a disappointing sixth spot, behind Malaysia and New Zealand in Melbourne in 2006.

Going by the current form, fetching a medal would not be easy for the Indians this time too as they are clubbed alongside world champions Australia and arch-rivals Pakistan in Pool A.

A positive result in the Delhi Games would not only do wonders for Indian hockey's sagging fortunes but would also act a morale booster for the team ahead of the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China in November. Having underwent rigorous training at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune for the last six months this time around the team is better prepared and national coach Harendra Singh sounded optimistic about the team's chances.

"Our preparations for the Commonwealth Games are much different from the World Cup. We have worked on specific shortcomings which came to light during the World Cup, like conceding soft goals," Harendra told PTI from Pune. "We are confident that this time we have the potential to earn a medal in the Commonwealth Games which has been eluding us for so many years," he said.

Off-field controversies, including disputes on salary and captaincy, had dogged the build-up to the World Cup but Harendra said with no such distractions this time the side is focused to break the medal jinx.

"The boys are in a good mood. They have realized that controversies are hindrance before any big tournament. They have realized that in the end what matters is your performance on the ground. They are determined to make up for their World Cup performance," the national coach said. The Games is also one opportunity for under-achiever chief coach Jose Brasa to prove his abilities before his contract expires after the Asian Games and going by the indications a new term is highly unlikely for the Spaniard because of his frequent outbursts in the media against the system.

In contrast, the women's team will be eyeing its second gold and third medal in the Commonwealth Games. In their maiden outing at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Games, Indian women finished fourth behind Australia, England and New Zealand.

However, four years later in Manchester, the Indian women defied the odds and stunned hosts England to win their first-ever gold. They followed the 2002 triumph with silver in 2006 Melbourne Games and now they have a chance to win another gold on home turf.

However, for this to happen the players will have to get over their recent World Cup disappointment in Rosario, Argentina where they finished a lowly ninth. If both the men's and women's team play to their potential, hosts India can be assured of two medals from hockey in the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

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