Target 500 – Indians set to chase a new milestone

India, which has missed out on four editions, has a total of 436 medals, just 64 short of the landmark figure. 

The onus will be on the experienced members of the Indian contingent - like P.V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal in badminton - to lead the charge at this year's Commonwealth Games.   -  PTI

Team India - comprising 219 (115 men and 104 women) athletes - which has been subjected to a lot of ridicule over the last two days, will look to set the record straight beside chasing a landmark as the XXI CWG gets underway here on Thursday.

It is quite unfortunate that none of the athletes,  representing the country in this quadrennial extravaganza, had anything to do with the unnecessary controversy but were still drawn into it by the media which painted the whole contingent as cheats, drawing their own conclusions from unnamed sources when both the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and the Gold Coast Organising Committee remained tight-lipped as the events unfolded.

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Earlier, in a huge relief to India, its boxers were cleared of any doping violation. They will, however, face punishment for breaching the Games’ strict ‘no needle’ policy. Having said that, the focus, over the next 11 days, will shift to the competitions where India will be taking part in 15 of the 20 disciplines through which 275 sets of medals will be up for grabs.

And as India gets off the blocks, its athletes will also be on the lookout for the country's 500th medal at the Games. India, which has missed out on four editions – 1930 (Hamilton), 1950 (Auckland), 1962 (Perth) and 1986 (Edinburgh) due to varying reasons, has a total of 436 medals, just 64 short of the landmark figure. 

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In fact in Glasgow, four years ago, India had that exact number of medals - 64 - and the team management is hopeful that the side will finish within the top three in the overall tally, thereby bettering its own score of 2014. 

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Speaking to Sportstar on Tuesday, the chef-de-mission of the Indian contingent, Vikram Singh Sisodia, said though it is difficult to predict a definite number, it is expected that the side will, for sure, improve upon its Glasgow showing. “To expect a record haul like in New Delhi in 2010 will be a bit too much.  "But even though it is the start of a new season, the players and the coaches are expecting a far better achievement here when compared to Glasgow 2014.”

To that end, the heavyweights in the team - P.V. Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth in badminton, Jitu Rai, Apurvi Chandela and Heena Sidhu in shooting, Sushil Kumar and Sakshi Malik in wrestling, M.C. Marykom, Vikas Krishan and Manoj Kumar in boxing, Mirabai Chanu and Sanjitha Chanu in weightlifting - are all expected to motivate youngsters like Manu Bhaker, Mehuli Ghosh, Aruna Reddy, Meghana Reddy and Neeraj Chopra, by putting their best foot forward. 

The Games will also provide the athletes with a good account of their current form and the work that needs to be done to take a shot at the Asian Games scheduled to be held in Jakarta in August-September.