Viren Rasquinha: ‘Quality of performances should matter more than a medal’

The former India hockey captain declares Australia “the clear favourite” to clinch the men’s hockey crown at the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

(From left to right) Viren Rasquinha, Anjali Bhagwat and Aparna Popat at a promotional event on Thursday ahead of the Commonwealth Games.   -  Vivek Bendre

India must focus on “quality of performances” at the upcoming Commonwealth Games with an eye on the bigger tourneys to follow, former hockey captain Viren Rasquinha has suggested.

“Quality of performances [at the Commonwealth Games] should matter more than a medal, with the Asian Games coming up this year and more important from the Olympics viewpoint,” Rasquinha said on the sidelines of an initiative named ‘Rang de Tiranga’, part of the build-up ahead of the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia.

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Rasquinha declared the host as a “clear favourite” to clinch the men’s hockey crown. He said, “Australia is the clear favourite in men (at the Commonwealth Games). Our women’s team at Rio Olympics were on par skill-wise; we lagged behind in the physical aspect. From the time Harender Singh took over (as women’s team chief coach), work has been done to build up strength.”

Former distinguished Indian shuttler Aparna Popat felt India’s badminton players would be a threat to opponents in both men’s and women’s doubles at the Games.

Ashwini ‘a strong player’

Aparna, a multiple Commonwealth Games badminton medallist, said, “Satwiksairaj Reddy and Chirag Shetty have been doing extremely well internationally in men’s doubles, so can be expected to carry forward form into the Commonwealth Games. Ashwini Ponappa is a strong player, chasing her third medal (having partnered Jwala Gutta to win the 2010 Commonwealth Games women’s doubles gold, followed by 2014 Commonwealth Games women’s doubles silver) and her presence will help partner Sikki Reddy.”

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While the Indian men have finished second twice at the Commonwealth Games, the women are in quest of their first podium finish. Satwiksairaj, just 17, is ranked World No. 21 in men’s doubles, and has paired with 20-year-old Chirag. 28-year-old Ashwini, an experienced hand, has adapted to a new women’s doubles partner in 20-year-old Sikki Reddy after years of alliance with Jwala. The Indian duo is ranked 26th in the world.

The event was organised by Sony Pictures Network (SPN), in collaboration with Sports Journalists Association of Mumbai (SJAM), to express support for the Indian contingent. Sportspersons and fans created the Indian tricolour using their thumb-prints.