will head to Gold Coast for the 2018 Commonwealth Games next week with one of
the strongest badminton squads ever, headlined by Olympic silver medallist PV
Sindhu, Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth, who is
coming off a freak year.
the trio in the singles will be world No 12 HS Prannoy and Ruthvika Shivani
Gadde, who had stretched Sindhu at the badminton Nationals last year. Out of
the five singles specialists, India can expect at least four medals in the
individual format from Sindhu, Saina, Prannoy and Srikanth. Anything less will
be a disappointment considering the quality, or lack of, of the opponents.
Strong singles squad
No 3 Sindhu should really have no trouble winning a gold considering the only
real competition for her are compatriot Nehwal, defending champion Michelle Li
from Canada and Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour.
had won the bronze in Glasgow four years ago and will be keen to change the
colour of the medal. The 22-year-old suffered an injury scare last week after
spraining her ankle in training but should be fit before the Games begin.
will be participating in her third Commonwealth Games campaign. She was handed
her debut at the 2006 Melbourne Games as a 15-year-old by former India coach
Vimal Kumar. The Haryana-born shuttler shocked all and sundry by beating New
Zealand’s Rebecca Bellingham 21-13, 24-22 to help India win a bronze in the
years later at home in New Delhi, Nehwal won the singles gold. She did not
participate in the 2014 Games because of an injury sustained during the
Australia Superseries. After returning to the circuit last year following a
knee surgery, Nehwal is expected to bag a medal at Gold Coast but said there is
no pressure. “It is a competition and we have to perform to achieve success,”
the 28-year-old had said.
to the men’s singles side, Srikanth, who had lost in the quarter-finals in
Glasgow four years ago, is keen on bagging his first CWG medal and wants it to
be a gold. “Commonwealth Games is priority for me,” the world No 2 had told the
Times of India. Winning a medal there is more important than becoming world No
1... It is one of the targets of the year.”
meanwhile, will be making his CWG debut. The 25-year-old recently said he is in
good shape after a foot injury had plagued the beginning of his 2018 season. He
is also wary of unheralded shuttlers rather than the favourites such as the
legendary Malaysian Lee Chong Wei.
are many players such as Rajiv Ouseph and Lee Chong Wei who have played in the
past at CWG, but it is the others who we should be wary of,” Prannoy had told
PTI. “There are others who are actually good and can trouble you on certain
days because you don’t know how they play.”
Wei is the favourite to win gold after missing the Glasgow Games. He had won
the double – gold medals in men’s singles and mixed-team – at Melbourne 2006
and New Delhi 2010.The Malaysian is not taking the draw lightly despite being
the heavy favourite.
is saying that it’s only the Commonwealth Games and I should win it,” Chong Wei
was quoted as saying by The Star. “But it’ll be one of the most challenging
Games. It’s my last [CWG] but I’m sure others are not going to make it easy for
me – especially the younger players. There are not many competitors but India
has good players. I can’t take anyone lightly.”
Focus on Chirag and Satwik
than the singles contingent, though, it’s the in-form pairing of Chirag Shetty
and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy where the excitement should really be focussed.
India has never won a medal, of any colour, in men’s doubles at the
Commonwealth Games. Considering how Chirag and Satwik have been playing in the
last six months, that record is set to change but for a huge upset.
and Satwik will be heading to Gold Coast after breaking into the world’s top 20
for the first time. The pair had reached two Superseries quarter-finals last
year and then made it to the semi-finals of the Indonesia Masters in January,
where they lost to the world No 1 pair of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin
the All England Open earlier this month, the Indian pair lost in the
pre-quarterfinals to the world No 2 pair of Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen
after a close match that lasted over an hour, with the score reading 16-21,
should bring a medal back for our country,” Satwik had told The Field recently.
We are pretty confident considering the way we have been playing over the last
three months. If we play the way we did at the All England, we can even win the
have never won a medal in mixed doubles as well at CWG, and Pranaav Jerry
Chopra and N Sikki Reddy have the best chance to bag a medal, with Malaysia
being the only real challengers as such. Reddy will also team up with Ashwini
Ponnappa in the women’s doubles, who has two medals at CWG before (gold in 2010
and bronze in 2014, both with Jwala Gutta).
total, India have won 19 medals in badminton at the Commonwealth Games: five
gold, four silver, and 10 bronze. Fifteen of those 19 medals were won in the
last five editions, starting from 1998. The first ever Indian to win a medal in
badminton at the Commonwealth Games was Dinesh Khanna, who won the bronze in
men’s singles in 1966.
took 12 more years for India to win another medal in the sport, before Prakash
Padukone clinched the gold in 1978. Syed Modi replicated Padukone’s heroics by
winning the gold again in 1982. After that, India did not win any gold in the
sport until Saina Nehwal and Jwala-Ashwini broke the pattern in 2010. P Kashyap
was the last gold-medal winner in badminton for India at CWG, at Glasgow 2014.
the strength of the squad for Gold Coast 2018, the Indian shuttlers should come
back with at least two golds – in men’s and women’s singles. If Satwik and
Chirag can also bag the yellow metal, it’ll be India’s best ever performance at
also not forget the mixed-team event that will take place before the
individual. India are the top seeds and have been drawn in Group A along with
Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Scotland. The Indians should easily top their group.
seeds Malaysia are the only team that can really come into the way of India and
a gold in the mixed-team competition. Malaysia have won the past three
consecutive gold medals in the team event, but anything less than a silver will
be a disappointment for India.
the winners in the mixed team event are decided by April 9, all players will
move onto their respective individual events from April 10 and try to reach the
podium on April 14 and 15.