Birmingham rolls out the Commonwealth Games carpet  

The Indian contingent will be fighting for medals in what is set to be the most extensive CWG calendar ever with 19 sports and eight para sports.

The Games begin on July 28 and the closing ceremony is scheduled to take place on August 8.

The Games begin on July 28 and the closing ceremony is scheduled to take place on August 8. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Indian contingent will be fighting for medals in what is set to be the most extensive CWG calendar ever with 19 sports and eight para sports.

Back in 2019, a cloud of uncertainty loomed over India’s participation in the Commonwealth Games (CWG). With shooting dropped from the programme, the who’s who of the sport, in which the country has had the most success in the CWG over the years, criticised the decision. Some even urged the Indian government to initiate a boycott. 

A lot has happened since then. Even as Covid-19 shredded sporting calendars, Tokyo successfully hosted the Olympics in 2021. 

Cut to the present. Even as the world tries to find its feet after a global COVID-19 vaccination programme, the World Health Organization (WHO), for the second time in two years, has declared a viral outbreak – Monkeypox – to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). 

The United Kingdom is among the worst affected. That, however, hasn’t stopped the Birmingham 2022 organisers from coming up with a full-blooded schedule, complete with a six-month-long celebration of creativity, art and culture. As many as 46 ambitious new artistic commissions and over 50 alignment projects have been planned for Commonwealth Games 2022. 

Team India, too, has moved on from its irate stand over shooting’s exclusion. From federations initially toying with the idea of sending second-string squads to the CWG, the strongest squad is being fielded because the Asian Games have been deferred by a year. 

Shooting’s absence and Olympic javelin throw champion Neeraj Chopra dropping out of the CWG with an injury will have a bearing on India’s medal tally. India will still be expected to win the bulk of its medals in weightlifting, badminton, wrestling and boxing. 

Although a podium finish would be on the mind of most of the athletes headed to the West Midlands, a small batch would have other goals

An example would be India’s triathlon team, which will be in action at Sutton Park on Friday. Gujarat’s Pragnya Mohan, who finished first in February’s selection trials and is a part of the team, is a rationalist. She says, “This is the first time India is sending a triathlon team to the Friendly Games. In the individual event, finishing in the top 10 would be the target, and in the relay, we are aiming for a top-five finish... If we achieve that, it calls for a celebration.” 

The organisers have spared no effort to make Birmingham 2022 one of a kind. There are more medal events for women than men for the first time ever at a major multi-sport event. What’s more, this edition promises to be the first to leave a carbon-neutral legacy. Also, Twenty20 cricket, basketball 3x3, and mixed synchronised diving are among the sports included in the event for the first time. 

India suffered a setback after a few athletes from the initial 215-member contingent failed dope tests. The remaining athletes will fight for medals in what is set to be the most extensive CWG calendar ever with 19 sports and eight para-sports. 

The Games begin on July 28. The closing ceremony is scheduled to take place on August 8.

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