CWG 2018: Opening ceremony at 3 pm; India eyeing rich medal haul this time

Indian contingent with officials during the country's flag-hoisting ceremony of the Commonwealth Games 2018 at Gold Coast in Australia on Monday. Photo: PTI
The 21st edition of the Commonwealth Games will kick off in Gold Coast, Australia, with a glittering opening ceremony at 3 pm IST on Wednesday. The inaugural ceremony will be held at the Carrara Stadium. The Commonwealth Games 2018, the biggest event in the history of the Games, will run through 11 days. More than 4,500 athletes from 71 nations and territories will be vying for 275 gold medals at the multi-sport event. Australia is hosting the Commonwealth Games for a fifth time.


Moreover, this is the first time when the same number of men’s and women’s medal events will be held at Gold Coast.


The Indian contingent at the ceremony, consisting of over 200 athletes, will be led by flag-bearer P V Sindhu, the Rio Olympic silver medallist. The squad also includes double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar, and London Olympic bronze medallists Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal and Gagan Narang.


The first gold medal of the event will be contested in the women's triathlon on Thursday. But, while the action hasn’t started yet, there are still plenty of talking points dominating discussions in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games 2018. Here are some important ones to look at:

Controversies that made headlines before the opening ceremony

Indian boxing team escapes reprimand: Indian boxing contingent heaved a sigh of relief after it escaped major sanctions for use of syringes at the Commonwealth Games village by its doctor Amol Patil on Tuesday. The team doctor was let off with a reprimand for not disposing of the needles according to the stipulated procedure. The CGF court ruled that Patil had erred in not disposing of the syringes as mandated by the 'No Needle Policy’ of the Games.


Saina Nehwal is angry, very angry: On Monday, the London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal had lashed out in a series of tweets at the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) after her father's name was deleted from the list of entrants to the CWG games village. Nehwal had earlier written an email to the IOA threatening to pull out of the CWG if her demand for clearing her father’s name was not met. Hours after Saina Nehwal's mail, IOA had cleared her father Harvir Singh's CWG accreditation.


Surprise to see that when we started from India for commonwealth games 2018 my father was confirmed as the team official and I paid the whole amount for that but when we came to the games village ... his name was cut from team official category .. and he can’t even stay with me .

— Saina Nehwal (@NSaina) April 2, 2018

He can’t c my matches and he can’t enter the village nor he can meet me in anyway .. what kind of support is this ..@thecgf

— Saina Nehwal (@NSaina) April 2, 2018

I wanted his support as I regularly take him for my competitions ...but i didn’t understand why nobody informed me all this earlier .. that he can’t enter anywhere #CommonwealthGames2018

— Saina Nehwal (@NSaina) April 2, 2018

Thank u so much @ioaindia for the support and help sorting out my father’s accreditation card in such short notice ..Hopefully it will b great for the matches ahead ..and I m sorry for all the trouble #CommonwealthGames2018

— Saina Nehwal (@NSaina) April 3, 2018
Baton halted in its tracks:The opening ceremony was also marred by a hindrance as Queen's Baton relay was halted by protesters. They were calling for justice for indigenous Australians. Those carrying the Queen’s baton — similar to the Olympic torch relay — were unable to get past the wall of protesters before emergency services helped them through. Wearring shirts and holding signs saying “No Justice, No Games”, they were protesting British colonisation of Australia, reports Later the demonstrators were removed from the protest site by the Police.

“The last day of the Baton Relay is a big day and it’s the first day of the Commonwealth Games starting with the Opening Ceremony tonight." @LisaCurry_ AO MBE was honoured to be one of the final #QBR2018 batonbearers on the #GoldCoast today. Read more short.url/aBcXyZ

— Gold Coast 2018 (@GC2018) April 4, 2018

Performance of the Indian contingent in Commonwealth Games 2014 at Glasgow


India had collected 64 medals (15 gold, 30 silver, 19 bronze) in the previous CWG held in Glasgow and the country would expect to better that performance at Gold Coast, Australia. Getting 101 medals in the New Delhi edition of the Games remains a tipping point for India in CWG, but since that took place at home, that mark will be lofty for the Indian contingent.


The bulk of India's medals in the past editions of the CWG have come from shooters, wrestlers, weightlifters and boxers. This time around, the competitors under these four disciplines will look to continue their impressive record.


India’s medal prospects at Gold Coast 2018


With a massive 222-member contingent, India will aim to showcase its status as a rising sports power with an expected rich medal haul at the 21st Commonwealth Games.


In shooting, India got 17 medals at Glasgow. In Gold Coast, India has a 27-member shooting team and several of the members are World Cup medallists. Some of the high-profile and in-form shooters are Jitu Rai (50m pistol), Ravi Kumar (10m air rifle), Olympic 2012 medallist Gagan Narang (50m rifle prone), Anish Bhanwala (25m rapid fire pistol), Heena Sidhu, Manu Bhaker (both 10m air pistol), Mehuli Ghosh, Apurvi Chandela (both 10m air rifle), Anjum Moudgil, Tejaswini Sawant (both 50m rifle 3positions) and Shreyasi Singh (double trap).


In weightlifting, there are high expectations from the reigning world champion S Mirabai Chanu (48kg) and Satish Shivalingam (77kg). Apart from the duo, medal hopefuls are K Sanchita Chanu (53kg), Deepak Lather (69kg), Saraswati Rout (58kg), and Punam Yadav (69kg).


Further lining up for medals are wrestlers, spearheaded by two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar (74kg) and 2016 Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik (62kg). India has a powerful wrestling team and other key grapplers include Bajrang Punia (65kg), Rahul Aware (57kg), Mausam Khatri (97kg), Babita Kumari (53kg), Pooja Dhanda (57kg) and Vinesh Phogat (50kg).


Among the boxers, Manoj Kumar (69kg), Vikas Krishan (75kg), Satish Kumar (+91kg), Gaurav Solanki (52kg), five-time world champion M C Mary Kom (48kg), Pinki Rani (51kg), L Sarita Devi (60kg) and Lovlina Borgoahin (69kg). For Mary Kom and Sarita, this will be their last CWG campaign and they will look to end it on a high.


In athletics, among the 28 competitors, star javelin thrower and Asian champion Neeraj Chopra and 2014 Games' silver medal-winning discus thrower Seema Punia have proved to be counted as confident medal hopefuls. Three-time CWG medal-winning discus thrower Seema Antil will need to again prove that she still has the hunger and power to earn India a medal here. M.R. Poovamma, Jauna Murmu and Hima Das and Sonia Baishya -- part of 4X400m relay team -- will need to pull of their very best to get a place on the podium.


India also has high hopes from the badminton team, which includes Olympic medallists Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu. In the men's singles, Kidambi Srikanth and H.S. Prannoy are also medal prospects. In the mixed team event, India had failed in Glasgow and this time, riding on the singles superstars, India will aim for a podium finish.


India's men's hockey team won two silver medals in the past two CWGs, losing to Australia in the finals, and this time, the reigning Asian champions will aim to bag the yellow metal. The women's team which competed in the 2010 and 2014 without medals, will have a strong chance to finish on the podium.


In squash, expectations will be high on Joshana Chinappa, Dipika Pallikal Karthik, Saurav Ghosal and Harinder Pal Sandhu. Dipika and Joshana will look to defend their doubles title.


In table tennis, Achanta Sharath Kamala will lead the Indian campaign. This Indian squad has already been hit by the ban on Soumyajit Ghosh, who is facing allegations of rape in Bengal. Harmeet Desai, Sanil Shetty, G. Sathiyan, Manika Batra, Mouma Das and Pooja Sahasreebudhe will compete in the singles, doubles and the team events.


In cycling, the pairing of Deborah Herold and Allena Reji is expected to bring a medal in the women's time trial.


In gymnastics, India has shown in the past few years that it can throw surprises in the big events like Dipa Karmakar in the Olympics and Aruna Budda Reddy in World Cup 2018. Though Dipa won't be at the Gold Coast due to a knee injury, Aruna will aim to continue her rise to fame which started since the day she won a medal at the World Cup. 2010 surprising medallist Ashish Kumar is also there but in recent times, he has faded away and needs to rise to the occassion in his bid to get a medal here.

Here is the schedule of events at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018:

Schedule of Gold Coast CWG 2018. Photo: PTI

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