Behind the scenes in Birmingham: A look at India’s CWG 2022 campaign in the words of athletes

In the Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham, India won 22 gold, with a total of 61 medals in its account. How was the journey of Indian athletes, know here.

India won 22 gold in the Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham

Image Credit source: AP/PTI

Amit Kamath from Birmingham

And it ended like this: 10 days of relentless play from Coventry Arena to Alexander Stadium and Victoria Park to Cannock Chase Forest. Indian players from Birmingham returned with 61 medals. Of these, 22 are gold medals. India ranked fourth, Canada in third place and New Zealand in fifth place. However, the number of medals will always prove to be insufficient to call India’s performance in Birmingham 2022 absolutely brilliant. So, we turn to our athletes to see how the past two weeks have been for them.

Of course, our athletes still use phrases like ‘just do your best’ and ‘have to give 100 percent’ over and over again. But sometimes, they talk about the importance of gold medals. Based on several one-on-one discussions with players and coaches in Birmingham, here we look back at some memorable moments from the 2022 Commonwealth Games, in the words of our athletes.

“When they made a mistake, they would say ‘sorry'”

Table tennis player Sreeja Akula talks about India’s flag bearer Sharath Kamal for the Birmingham 2022 closing ceremony. Sharath won four medals. Three of them (men’s singles, mixed doubles and men’s team) were gold, while in men’s doubles they got silver medals. At the age of 40, playing the best table tennis of his career, Sharat led the table tennis contingent in Birmingham. While her medals in singles and men’s doubles were not unexpected, her gold with Sreeja was a pleasant surprise. Because their pair was a temporary pair. While G Sathiyan and Manika Batra were the top mixed pairing for the country, their pairing in table tennis was considered so good that they were considered the best bets for the Olympics. The secret of the Sreeja-Sharat pair was Sharat’s ability, where he did not let Sreeja feel uncomfortable. He didn’t let Sreeja get caught up in the idea that she was playing with ‘Sharat Bhaiya’. The difference in experience between these two can be understood from the fact that Sharath has played with Sreeja’s coach Somnath Ghosh in his early days.

“Okay, we’ll do it the hard way”

Indian women’s hockey team coach Janeke Shopman said these words to the team just before another penalty shootout against New Zealand. The Indian team was in the race for the bronze medal. She lost to Australia via a shootout in the semi-finals, although this shootout was controversial as the officials were asked to shoot again against Australia after the first attempt due to human error. This defeat still dominated the minds of the players, forcing them to go for another shootout. In this match, about a minute before the end of time, New Zealand were allowed to level the score. Keeper Savita Punia became the defender of India. India won the bronze medal. This was his first medal at the Commonwealth Games in 16 years. It came with great difficulty, said the shopman.

“I used to write a lot of notes and diaries. After the Olympics, I tore it all away. There is no point. not having something.”

Vinesh Phogat tells this about a diary to keep negative thoughts under control. When Rio Olympic bronze medalist Sakshi Malik was looking to bounce back from her poor form, she consulted a psychologist who advised her to write a diary. When Vinesh was asked about keeping a similar diary, she laughed and said that I too used to write a lot of notes and had a lot of diaries. But after realizing that they weren’t helpful, he tore them all to pieces after the Tokyo Olympics.

“Just do it Vinesh!”

When Vinesh had caught the helpless Chamodya Keshani don Maduravalge in the lap, only then a spectator gave such a voice. It was a rare occasion when an Indian fan was telling an Indian athlete to show mercy to an opponent. This incident made everyone present in the Coventry Arena smile, Vinesh held on to the Sri Lankan opponent for a few seconds. Even before flying to Britain, Vinesh was hopeful that she could win a medal at the Commonwealth Games, as only four wrestlers were competing in the women’s 53kg category. But winning her third CWG gold was a sign to her that despite the Tokyo 2020 omission, she is still as dangerous on the mat as she was before.

“I used to be watching the high jump of the Commonwealth Games in my house wearing a lungi”

High jumper Tejaswin Shankar could not make it to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games initially. AFI did not include him in the athletics squad. He went to the Delhi High Court, and won the case. But the organizers of Birmingham 2022 rejected the request of AFI and IOA to include him. Eventually, after the organizers reconsidered, they were ranked in the high jump event. He watched the opening ceremony on TV and arrived in Birmingham a few days before his game. In all these events, he won the bronze medal.

“Dad started laughing. So it’s all right”

Wrestler Anshu Malik was inconsolable after losing the final of the women’s 57kg event. Known as one of the most promising female wrestlers after Vinesh Phogat, the silver medal was rejected for Anshu. She sat down in the aisle of Coventry Arena, her jumper lifting her head like a veil, tears rolling down her eyes. But when she exited the Coventry Arena, she looked overjoyed. He told its secret, in fact he had a conversation with his father. “As soon as he answered my call, he just started laughing,” he said.

What made his silver medal laudable was that he had severe elbow pain, which would get hurt every time the opponent attacked. This injury also hindered his training. Still, she was going for a leg attack 6.1 seconds before the game. He told, “I thought whatever happens today will be seen. will break or whatever. Hands won’t be different.”

“Never saw Anna cry”

Indian shuttler Satwiksairaj Rankireddy said singles star Kidambi Srikanth took the loss to heart after losing to Malaysia in the final of the mixed team event in badminton. World No. 13 Srikanth lost to world No. 42 Ng Tje Yong in a singles match. Four years ago, when the two met in the final. Srikanth led the team by defeating the legendary Lee Chong Wei in the men’s singles match. Srikanth made up for that disappointment by winning a bronze medal in the individual men’s singles event in Birmingham.

“I missed Neeraj. Had they been there, it would have been even more fun.”

Javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem won the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games with a throw of 90.18m. Neeraj Chopra was out of the Birmingham Games due to a back injury. Despite being rivals and soldiers of the army, both have a lot of respect for each other. After winning the gold, Arshad said, “We are really good friends. Injuries are part of the game. I wish that God gives him good health. I want to use this opportunity to wish him all the best for the upcoming games.” Nadeem had finished fifth at the World Athletics Championships last month, where Chopra won a silver medal. Chopra had praised him at that time.

“That voice inspires from within”

After winning a bronze medal in weightlifting in the women’s 71kg category, Harjinder Kaur talks about Mirabai Chanu’s presence in the stands. Chanu constantly encouraged. Not only Harjinder, every weightlifter who won a medal in the Indian contingent got used to the sound of ‘Meera didi’, when she was on the stand she would shout, “Drag louder. EG. EG. EG. Push it.”