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Signs are not bad

As top Asian shuttlers are not in fray at CWG, India looks set for a rich haul of medals

Published: 19th July 2014 10:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th July 2014 10:27 AM   |  A+A-

SAINA-NEHWAL

HYDERABAD:  Ironically, India coach and former All England champion Pullela Gopichand never won a Commonwealth Games gold medal. Till the 2010 Delhi Games, India had only two gold winners in Prakash Padukone (1978, Edmonton) and the late Syed Modi (1982, Brisbane).

India had to wait for another 28 years before they made their presence felt in 2010 by winning two gold, one silver and one bronze medal. The rise of Saina Nehwal brought new hope and she obliged by clinching gold. The other gold came from the vibrant women’s doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa.

India’s overall tally in badminton in 12 editions of the Commonwealth Games is four gold, three silver and eight bronze medals. England have 97 medals, including 33 gold, while Malaysia have 56, with 24 gold. In the 13th edition in Glasgow, badminton will have six events — mixed team, men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles.

Gopichand is optimistic about India’s chances. “We as a team look good. In the last four years, India has grown as a powerhouse in world badminton. Singles is our biggest strength and also women’s doubles. In the team event too, we have a chance,” he said.

Gopichand added that in women’s singles, India has better players than England, Malaysia, Singapore. “We need to make sure that we produce consistent performances.” The world’s best players are not in fray at the Commonwealth Games and players from England, Malaysia, India, Singapore, Scotland and Canada will battle it out in the six events.

Former international Sanjay Sharma said the absence of top players from China, Denmark and Indonesia could make things easier for India. “We should win four gold medals. I expect them in women’s and men’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed team event,” he said.

“Given Saina’s return to form, she should be a sure gold winner. The absence of Lee Chong Wei opens the window for either Parupalli Kashyap or Kidambi Srikanth to win the men’s gold. Their main challenge will come from Malaysia’s Wei Feng Chang, who is ranked 19th, and England’s Rajiv Ouseph, 27th,” he said. RMV Gurusaidutt, the third men’s singles player, will be making his CWG debut.

Sharma also foresees a Saina-PV Sindhu final. Scotland has a potentially dangerous Christy Gilmour, ranked 17th in the world. Although Gopichand was confident of a smooth run for Saina, he was wary of Gilmour. “I would not put too much expectations on Sindhu. There are some tricky players like Gilmour, who has beaten her in the past. We have to wait and watch how she progresses.” But Sharma said given the recent performances of Sindhu, he would expect an all-India battle for the gold in which Saina looks the more confident player at the moment. The other big player in the fray is 20th ranked Li Michelle of Canada. PC Thulasi is the third Indian women’s player in singles. Jwala and Ashwini should be able to retain their gold, according to Sharma. Gopichand, too, feels they have a good chance. “There is not much of a challenge in women’s  doubles and I feel Jwala and Ashwini should dominate,” he said.Vivian Koah Mun Hoo and Khei Wei Woon of Mala ysia are ranked three places higher than the Indians.



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