New Delhi: Members of the Indian squad for Commonwealth Games (CWG) 2022 oozed confidence in a glittering and warm send-off ceremony held here on Thursday.
Leading the country in providing best wishes and encouragement to the squad members was the chief guest on the occasion sports minister Anurag Thakur.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia, P.R. Sreejesh, Manpreet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Lovlina Borgohain were some of the star members present at the ceremony from among the 215 strong squad. Some other prominent athletes present included the likes of Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik, sprint stars Dutee Chand and Hima Das, Asian Boxing Championships Gold Medallist Shiva Thapa and boxer Amit Panghal, among others.
“Today with the vision and tireless efforts of our popular Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi, Indian sports has reached a higher level globally. The performance at last year’s Olympic Games was our best ever and we have seen the improvement of our athletes across sports in recent times with our own eyes. The historic Thomas Cup win was one such occasion,” Anurag Thakur said.
“This Indian CWG squad is definitely our best and strongest ever and I am confident that all our athletes will make India proud at a global stage yet again, the number of medals they win notwithstanding. We are all proud of them and the whole country will be behind them, whether in victory or in defeat. We wish you all the very best,” he added.
The sports minister also revealed that he was extremely happy that the CWG squad had attained gender balance with 108 men being accompanied by 107 women athletes.
The general secretary, Indian Olympic Association (IOA), Rajeev Mehta said, “We are confident of a strong performance by the squad. Their training and preparations have been top class and the Government of India and the Ministry of Sports have left no stone unturned to ensure that we put our best foot forward for the Birmingham CWG. I humbly express my gratitude towards them and wish all our athletes, coaches and support staff a hugely successful Games.”
Mehta also announced prize money on behalf of the IOA for the medal winning athletes at the Birmingham Games. The gold winners will be awarded a cash prize of Rs 20 lakh, while Rs 10 lakh has been earmarked for silver winners. Bronze medal winners will be awarded Rs 7.5 lakh.
Mehta also thanked all the sponsors for their support.
“We are glad to partner with our sponsors. They once again extended their expertise to our team to enable them to perform well and return victorious. The Indian CWG squad has Adani Sportsline as the Principal Sponsor while JSW Inspire as the Principal & Kitting Sponsors. Herbalife Official is the Nutrition Partner and Manyawar is the Ceremonial Kitting Partner while Adidas are the performance footwear partners. I sincerely thanked all of them and request them to continue their support in upcoming national games,” he said.
Some members of the squad are either already in the United Kingdom for acclimatization, training or competition as the case may be, or are engaged in their professional assignments around the world and will reach Birmingham directly.
India had won a total of 66 medals including 26 gold in the Games’ previous edition in Gold Coast, Australia four years ago, to finish a creditable third behind traditional powerhouses Australia and England. Over 90 per cent of the medals including 25 of the 26 gold came from the six sports of Badminton, Boxing, Shooting, Table Tennis, Weightlifting and Wrestling. Athletics, Parasports and Squash were the other medal winning sports for India.
Shooting, which gave India as many as 16 medals at the Gold Coast Games including seven gold, is no longer a part of CWG 2022, however for the very first time Women’s Cricket has been included and India will fancy their chances in the country’s most popular sport.
Besides Indian squads in traditionally strong sports like Badminton, Boxing, Hockey, Weightlifting and Wrestling are considerably stronger than previous years if recent results are anything to go by and together, should make up for Shooting’s loss.
Among other key dignitaries present was Nisith Pramanik, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs and MYAS. Sandeep Pradhan, Director General, Sports Authority of India as well as Anil Khanna, acting president, IOA.