India eye a Top-3 finish at the Commonwealth Games 2014
Glasgow: The unprecedented success achieved in the last edition would be hard to replicate this time after the dropping of a few disciplines but upbeat after getting back in the Olympic fold, a 215-strong Indian contingent would nonetheless seek a top-five finish in the 20th Commonwealth Games which begin here today.
Pistol shooter Vijay Kumar, who won four medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, is the flag-bearer for India at Glasgow. Pic/Getty Images
India finished second behind Australia with a record 101-medal haul in New Delhi in a Games marred by corruption scandals and construction delays but praised for the stunning success in terms of delivery of the event and performance by the athletes.
All eyes on Usain Bolt
The Games will see 4,500 athletes from 71 nations of the erstwhile British empire compete for the top honours with superstar sprinter Usain Bolt of Jamaica and middle and long distance king Mo Farah of England expected to set the Hampden Park Stadium ablaze.
A total of 261 medal events across 18 sports will be contested across 11 days in the third-biggest multi-sporting event after Olympics and Asian Games. The Games will also include the highest ever number of para-sport events with 22 gold medals up for grabs across five sports.
India, which has sent 215 athletes in 14 sports, its largest ever after2010 Delhi CWG, will be hit hard by the scrapping of archery and tennis from Glasgow Games and the reduction in the number of medal events in shooting and wrestling.
The country had won a combined 12 medals from archery and tennis in 2010 while bagging 14 medals from the 18 events dropped this time from shooting. Greco-Roman category in wrestling, from which India won eight medals in 2010, has also been done away with in Glasgow.
With several of the shooters, who had given 30 medals in 2010, also not in peak form, India's medal tally is expected to reduce drastically from the 101 (38, 27, 36) in 2010 and anything above 60 can be considered an achievement.
Top-2 finish unlikely
Finishing second in Glasgow ahead of England, whose athletes are competing under near home-like conditions, is unlikely for India.
England will also be hurt less than India on account of scrapping of archery and tennis and pruning down of the number of events in shooting and wrestling. Moreover, they did not send many of their top athletes in 2010 because of the 2012 London Olympics.
India and Canada, which has sent a 265-strong team to Glasgow. India, which has more than half of the total two billion population of the Commonwealth countries, has returned with nearly 30 medal winners of the last Games with the likes of Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Vijender Singh, Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Krishna Poonia, Ashish Kumar, Achanta Sharath Kamal set to prove their mettle once again.
The number of athletes participating from 71 nations
The number of medals up for grabs across 18 disciplines