Unprecedented success in track and field events that delivered eight medals, the highest for India in a Commonwealth Games edition overseas, is arguably the biggest positive to come out of the just-concluded Birmingham 2022.
Slipping out of the usual top-five was seen as a real possibility in absence of shooting but phenomenal success in athletics and lawn bowls propelled India to a commendable fourth place finish.
About 25 percent of India's 66 medals came from the shooting range in the previous edition in Australia and not many believed that India will be able to touch even 50 but the country ended up with 61, PTI reports.
Eldhose Paul and Abdullah Aboobacker's rare 1-2 finish in triple jump will be cherished for long. Avinash Sable's Silver in the 3000m steeplechase and Tejaswin Shankar's Bronze in the high jump were also a first for India while Murali Sreeshankar's Silver in the long jump was the country's first since 1978.
Annu Rani too etched her name in the history books by becoming the first Indian female athlete to secure a medal in javelin throw, a Bronze. Priyanka Goswami and Sandeep Kumar brought medals in the 10,000 metre race walk, contributing immensely to the success.
World Championship medallist Anju Bobby George had predicted at least seven medals from the Games but India managed to surpass that despite the absence of Olympic Gold medalist Neeraj Chopra, who missed the multi-sporting event due to a groin injury.
Gold and Silver from Lawn Bowls
The feel good story of the Games came from the lawn bowls greens in Victoria Park. A police constable, sports teacher and a forest officer combined to catch the imagination of the entire country by winning the women's fours gold in a sport, nuances of which would still be unknown to many.
The team comprised Lovely Choubey, Pinki, Rupa Rani Tirkey and Nayanmoni Saikia Inspired by them, the men's quartet too sprang a surprise by winning silver in the sport that has been part of the sports program since 1930. Navneet Singh, Chandan Kumar Singh, Sunil Bahadur and Dinesh Kumar are hoping the medal ends up changing their lives.
Reaffirming their dominance at the CWG, Indian wrestlers won medals in all the 12 events they competed in and that included six Gold.
Olympic medallists Ravi Dahiya and Bajrang Punia delivered as expected by stepping on the top of the podium, while Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat made a roaring comeback after a rough patch.
Three medals also came from the judo mat including a Silver from Delhi-based Tullika Maan.
Old is Gold in TT
Table tennis got India the most number of Gold medals after wrestling. Achanta Sharath Kamal showed 40 is just a number by adding three Gold to a record equalling 13 medals in Games' history including the singles title after 16 years. Paralympic Games medallist Bhavina Patel contributed to India's Gold rush by winning the C3-5 category.
The indefatigable paddler will return from Birmingham with a rich haul of four medals, having won the men’s team and the mixed team Gold, apart from his Silver in the men’s doubles.
With Monday’s sensational Gold, Sharath has taken his overall medal tally to 13 at the CWG, since making his Games debut in 2006.
The badminton courts at the NEC arena fetched India three Golds with superstar PV Sindhu finally winning her maiden title. The young Lakshya Sen also put up an inspiring effort to complete India's sweep in the singles competition. India’s star doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy won the country’s third Gold from the badminton court.
India thus finished a solid badminton campaign with three Gold, one Silver and two Bronze.
At the boxing arena, reigning world champion Nikhat Zareen (48-50kg), Nitu Ghanghas (48kg) and Amit Panghal (51kg) bossed their respective opponents to claim Gold.
There were a few disappointments as well. The women's cricket team came away with a Silver but Gold was there for the taking in the final against Australia.
It was a mixed bag in the hockey competition with women winning their first medal since Melbourne 2006 while the men were hammered 7-0 by Australia in the final.
India’s final tally read 22 Gold, 16 Silver and 23 Bronze and they stood behind third-placed Canada, which was far ahead with 92 medals (26-32-34). Australia (67-57-54) finished on top ahead of hosts England (57-66-53).