New Delhi: India will field a strong 224 member contingent, its second largest ever, in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games to be held from July 23 to August 3, with athletics forming the biggest squad of 41.
The sports ministry has cleared the 224 athletes from 14 sporting disciplines, including seven para-athletes, at government cost, along with a contingent of 90 officials, coaches and support staff. The Glasgow Games will have 17 sports and 261 medal events and India will not be fielding athletes only in three disciplines -- netball, rugby sevens and triathlon.
The para-athletes will complete separately in a record 22 events in five different sports (athletics, cycling, lawn bowls, swimming and weightlifting). 2010 Delhi GWG had 21 sports and 271 medal events and India had fielded 495 athletes, the country's largest ever participation. India had won a record 101 medals ( 38 gold, 27 silver, 36 bronze) and had finished second behind Australia.
After the track and field athletes, who are expected to win between eight-10 medals, hockey players make the second largest contingent with 32 (16 men and 16 women players). Shooters, who are expected to win a major chunk of medals, form the third largest contingent with 30 marksmen. Archery and tennis, which contributed a chunk of medals for India in 2010 Delhi CWG, have been removed from the Glasgow Games.
In wrestling, Greco-Roman section will no longer be there in Glasgow and shooting medal events will also be dropped from 44 in 2010 to 19 in Glasgow. Despite the reduction in medal events, Indian Olympic Association Secretary General Rajeev Mehta said he was confident of winning more or less the same number of medals in Glasgow.
"I feel we will win more or less the same number of medals," he said after signing a sponsorship deal worth Rs one crore with leading dairy product brand Amul. The programme was attended by Indian hockey team members, including captain Sardar Singh and P R Sreejesh, and Glasgow-bound wrestlers. IOA treasurer Anil Khanna said the entire amount of Rs one crore will be spent on the CWG-bound athletes.
The General Budget, which was presented to the Lok Sabha yesterday, allocated a amount of Rs 100 crore for sports and Mehta welcomed the government for the additional sum. "The IOA welcomes the allocation of additional sum of Rs 100 crore. We had wanted Rs 400 crore from the government but this amount (of Rs 100 crore) is still good. It will at least help in the preparation of Indian athletes for the Asian Games," he said.
Asked about the 2019 Asian Games bid which failed to get government's support, Mehta said, "Time was short for both the IOA and sports ministry. There is no point blaming anybody. We tried our best and the sports ministry tried their best but the bid did not happen because of lack of time.
"The IOA will try to host these multi-sporting events later in future again," he added. Among some of the big names who are taking part in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games are Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt (wrestling), Abhinav Bindra, Vijay Kumar, Gagan Narang and Manavjit Sandhu (shooting), Vikas Gowda, Krishna Poonia and Tintu Luka (athletics), Saina Nehwal and Jwala Gutta (badminton), Vijender Singh, Shiv Thapa and Pinki Rani (boxing), Ashish Kumar (gymnastics), Deborah (cycling), Saurav Ghosal, Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa (squash) and K Ravi Kumar (weightlifting).
More than 6,500 athletes and officials from 71 nations and territories will compete in 17 sports over 11 days in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Australia, who had topped the medal tally in the last six Games, and England are expected to send big teams of more than 400 athletes each while Scotland will be represented by over 300 athletes. India had sent 180 athletes in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and had finished fourth with 22 gold, 17 silver and 11 bronze.