Meet India’s Gold Medal winning stars of the Commonwealth Games 2018

A brief history of Commonwealth Games

With its humble beginning in 1930 with just 11 nations and 400 Athletes and after three name changes, today Commonwealth Games has grown into a sporting spectacular of 71 nations and territories and over 6,600 athletes and team officials. From 1930 -1950, the Games were known as British Empire Games, then from 1954 to 1966, British Empire and Commonwealth Games and from 1970 to 1974 the name was changed to British Commonwealth Games. In 1974 the word British was dropped from its name.

India is a participant in the Games since 1934, but had to wait until 1958 to win its first gold Medal, when legendary Indian athlete Milkha Singh won gold in the men’s 440-yard run. India won its first medal in the Games in 1934 itself when Rashid Anwar won bronze medal in Men’s Welterweight Division (74 kg).

India always lived up to the objectives of the games with its performance improving every year. In 2010 when India hosted the Games, then chairman of Common Wealth Games, Suresh Kalmadi dipped the games in Corruption and brought disrepute to the Nation. Keeping with India’s tradition, instead of punishing the man who disgraced the nation, in Dec 2016, the Indian Olympic Association(IOA) named Suresh Kalmadi as its lifetime patron. But due to public outcry he had to decline the position.

But the 2010 Commonwealth Games were the most successful games for India in terms of medals winning 38 gold, 27 silver and 36 bronze. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, India won a total of 64 medals (15 Golds, 30 Silvers, 19 Bronzes).

In 2018, India improved its performance winning 26 gold medals so far with a prospect of winning more. Below is a brief description of India’s Gold medal winning athletes.

Bajrang Punia won the gold medal in freestyle 65kg wrestling

24-year-old Bajrang Punia was born in Khudan village of Jhajjar district in the state of Haryana. He is been trained as a wrestler since the age of 7.  In 2015 his family moved to Sonepat for him to attend regional center of Sports Authority of India. He works as a TTE with the Indian Railways. In 2017, he won a gold medal at the Asian Wrestling Championship held at Delhi

Tejaswini Sawant won the 50m rifle position event

37-year-old Tejaswini Sawant hails from Kolhapur in Maharashtra. Her late father Ravindra Sawant was a Navy officer. She is married to Builder Sameer Darekar of Pune. she won gold medals in Women’s 10 m Air Rifle singles and Women’s 10 m Air Rifle Pairs with Avneet Kaur Sidhu at the 2006 Commonwealth Games at Melbourne. She is a recipient of Arjuna Award. In 2010 she became the World Champion in the 50m Rifle Prone event in Munich, Germany.

Anish Bhanwala bagged gold in men’s 25m rapid fire pistol

15-year-old Anish Bhanwala was born in Kashandi, Sonipat, Haryana. He is the youngest Indian to win a Gold medal in Commonwealth Games. He is still a High School student. Anish took up the sport after trying his hand at modern pentathlon, when his talent with the gun was spotted by senior shooters. Anish’s sister who is two years older than him is also a shooter who won many medals. His father Jagpal, an advocate in Karnal, moved to Delhi from Karnal to ensure better training facilities for his children.

Sushil Kumar won gold in men’s freestyle 74kg wrestling

The 34-year-old Sushil Kumar was born in Baprola, South Delhi. His father Diwan Singh, a wrestler by himself, was a driver in MTNL Delhi. His family was struggling financially and found it hard to support his training. Unlike the rest of the wrestlers, Sushil kumar being a devout Hindu is a strict vegetarian. Sushil is currently employed with the Indian Railways as an assistant commercial manager. Initially trained in Pehalwani wrestling, Sushil later switched to freestyle. Competing in the 66 kg weight division he won the 2010 world title, a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics and a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which made him the only Indian to win two individual Olympic medals. He is a recipient of Arjuna Award, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award and Padma Shri.

Rahul Aware won gold medal in the Men’s Freestyle 57kg wrestling event.

The 26-year-old Rahul Aware hails from Maharashtra. He won Gold Medal in National Championships 5 times. Rahul also won the gold medal in the men’s freestyle 55 kg category in 2011 Commonwealth Wrestling Championships in Melbourne

Shreyasi Singh won gold in the double trap women shooting

26-year-old Shreyasi Singh was born in Giddhaur, Banka, Bihar. She hails from an affluent political family in Bihar. Her late father Digvijay Singh was a Union Minister. Her mother Putul Kumari was an ex Member of Parliament. Shreyasi won a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow for double trap shooting.

Shooter Heena Sidhu won gold in 25m pistol event

The 28-year-old Heena Sidhu was born in Ludhiana, Punjab, India. A dentist by profession Heena Sidhu hails from a family of shooters. Her father, brother and husband are shooters and her uncle is a gunsmith and a gun customizer. In 2014, Sidhu became the first Indian pistol shooter to reach number one in world rankings by the International Shooting Sport Federation. In 2013, Sidhu became the first Indian pistol shooter to win a gold medal in an ISSF World Cup

The Indian mixed team badminton claimed gold for the first time in the Games’ history

India claims maiden badminton mixed team gold at Commonwealth Games

The Team – Pranav Chopra, Prannoy Kumar, Saina Nehwal, Ashwini Ponnappa, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Sikki Reddy, Chirag Shetty, Gadde Ruthvika Shivani, P V Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth

Jitu Rai won gold In the 10m men’s air pistol event

The 30-year-old Jitu Rai was born in Sankhuwasabha, Nepal. He is a Naib Subedar in the 11 Gorkha Rifles of Indian Army. He also won a Gold in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games in the 50m Pistol event.

Jitu Rai’s achievements

2014 Asian Games held at Incheon in South Korea, Jitu won the gold medal in the 50 m pistol category

In 2014, at the ISSF World Cup in Munich, he won the silver medal in the 10 metre air pistol event. Following this, in Maribor, Rai won two medals; a silver in the 50 metre pistol event, and a gold in the 10 metre air pistol event.

Women’s table tennis – the Indian team won its first ever Commonwealth gold medal

Indian women went on to beat Singapore, who have won every women’s team gold since the sport was introduced at the Games in 2002. The star was undoubtedly world No. 58 Manika Batra. The other members of the Team are Mouma Das, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Madhurika Patkar, Pooja Sahasrabudhe

Manika Batra

She is the top ranked female Table Tennis Player in India. The 22-year-old Manika was born in Naraina Vihar in Delhi. Batra turned down many modelling offers as a teenager. When she was 16, she rejected a scholarship to train at the Peter Karlsson Academy in Sweden.

Mouma Das

34-year-old Mouma Das was born in Kolkata, West Bengal. She has won a Gold in the Women’s Team Competition in 2018. She was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2013.

Manu Bhaker won gold In 10m women’s air pistol

16-year-old Manu Bhaker was born in Goria village near Jhajjar in the Jhajjar district of Haryana. She is a jack ( In fact an expert )of all trades. She began boxing at the age of 6, Then played Cricket, Kabbadi, Tennis, Manipuri martial art ( Tang Ta) and Karate. She was a state level champion in skating and won medals in athletics.  She won Gold at Tang Ta nationals and a national medal in Karate. Manu began shooting only in 2016 as her mother feared that she could pick up an injury in contact sports. She has excelled in her studies too. She got 10CGPA in her board exam and want to be a doctor. Her father Ram Kishan is an engineer with merchant navy, while mother Sumedha is the principal of her school. She represented India at the 2018 ISSF World Cup and won two gold medals. She is the youngest Indian to win a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup (Courtesy: Times of India)

Weightlifter Punam Yadav won gold in women’s 69 kg category

22-year-old Punam Yadav was born in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

Her father Kailash Yadav is a farmer struggling to meet both ends for a family of five children. Punam grew up helping her parents in the farm. Karnman Malleswari was Punam’s inspiration to take up weightlifting. She started training in 2011. Due to her poor family background she could not even afford proper diet which is and important requirement for weightlifters.  So, there were several nights where an exhausted Punam would return from a day of heavy training just to sleep on an empty stomach. On Swami Agdanand’s recommendation, social worker Satish Fauji helped her with finances to cover her training expenses. When she got an opportunity to represent India at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, her father had to sell his buffalo and borrow money from friends and relatives to meet the expenses. Poonam now has cleared all of her family debt and even built a home on her own.

Weightlifter Venkat Rahul Ragala won gold medal in the men’s 85 kg category

The 21-year-old Venkat Rahul Ragala was born in Stuartpuram, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. He was trained at Telengana State Sports School. At the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing, he won the silver medal in the 77 kg category

Weightlifter Satish Kumar Sivalingam won gold in Weightlifting –  men’s 77kg category

The 25-year-old Sathish Kumar Sivalingam was born in Sathuvachari, Vellore, Tamil Nadu. His father too was a weightlifter who won gold medal at National Level. His father started training him before he turned 13 for nearly five hours a day. His father never allowed him to have coffee as that is an enhancer. Satish discontinued his degree course after he got a job at the Indian Railways as a Clerk.

He also won a Gold at 2014 Commonwealth Games, in the men’s 77 kg.

Weightlifter Khumukcham Sanjita Chanu won gold medal in Weight Lifting-  women’s 53kg category

The 24-year-old Khumukcham Sanjita Chanu was born in Kakching Khunou, Kakching district in Manipur. Like Mirabai Sanjita also considers Manipuri weightlifter Kunjarani as her hero who inspires her as a Weightlifter.

She also won a gold in women’s 48kg weightlifting at the 2014 Commonwealth Games

Weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu won gold in the women’s 48 kg category

The 23-year-old Saikhom Mirabai Chanu was born in Nongpok Kakching, Imphal, Manipur. In 2018, Chanu was awarded with the Padma Shri by the Government of India. Mirabai’s story is one of talent, determination and hard work. From a very young age, she used to travel 60km for training as her village did not have a training facility.  She is coached by her idol Kunjarani Devi. She was also an under 15 National Chapion

Chanu had also won medal in the following international events

Women’s 48 kg weight class at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Glasgow – Silver

World Weightlifting Championships held in Anaheim, United States. – Gold Medal

Indian men’s table tennis team wins gold

The final against Nigeria was one-sided as Indians won easily at 3-0. But what had helped them gain momentum and confidence was the hard-fought 3-2 win over Singapore in the semifinals in the morning,

The Team

Sharath Achanta , Anthony Amalraj, Harmeet Desai. Sanil Shetty, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran

Sharath Achanta – The 35-year-old Sharat was born in Chennai Tamil Nadu. He won the men’s singles gold in the 16th Commonwealth table tennis championship held at Kuala Lumpur in 2004. He also won the US Open Table Tennis Men’s championships held at Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2010

Mary Kom wins gold in Boxing    Women’s light flyweight 48 kg

35-year-old, Chungneijang Mary Kom Hmangte better known as Mary Kom was born in Kangathei, Manipur. She is a five-time World Amateur Boxing champion, and the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six world championships. She is also a nominated Member of Rajyasabha. She also won a Bronze medal in 2012 Summer Olympics for the flyweight (51 kg) category.

Born in an underprivileged family to a tenant farmer father, eldest of the three sisters, Mary Kom was an active participant all sort of sports activities during her school days.  But the success of Manipurian Dingko Singh, at the 1998 Bangkok Asian games inspired her to try Boxing. She kept it a secret from her father due to the fear that her father will stop her for the fear of injuring her face, which will seriously affect her chances of getting married.

She married footballer Karung Onkholer in 2005. After marriage she took a break till she had two children, then began training again. She won a silver medal at the 2008 Asian Women’s Boxing Championship in India and a fourth successive gold medal at the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship in China followed by a gold medal at the 2009 Asian Indoor Games in Vietnam

Kom, mom of three, was the subject of a Bollywood biographical film Mary Kom in 2014 starring Priyanka Chopra in the lead role.

Sanjeev Rajput wins Gold for Shooting   Men’s 50m rifle 3 positions

The 37-year-old Sanjeev Rajput was born in Jagadhri, Haryana.  In 2016 a female shooter from Delhi has accused Sanjeev Rajput of rape after promising marriage. Sanjeev was also accused of spiking the girl’s drink. He was released on bail.

Gaurav Solanki won gold for Boxing in Men’s flyweight 52 kg

21-year-old Gaurav Solanky was born in Ballabhgarh, Haryana. A Commonwealth Youth Games silver medallist Gaurav wasn’t in the fray for Gold Coast due to contentious loss at Nationals. A bronze in India Open and a silver at the Bulgaria invitational booked him a Commonwealth Games trial which he won making him qualified for Gold Coast

Neeraj Chopra won Gold in Men’s javelin throw

20 year old Neeraj Chopra was born in Khandra, Panipat, Haryana. He won a gold medal in 2016 IAAF World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland making him the first Indian to win a gold medal at any world championship in athletics.  He also set a world junior record. He had won the gold medal at the 2016 South Asian Games with a throw of 82.23 m. Australian Garry Calvert is his coach.

The son of a farmer he grew up in Khandra village of Haryana’s Panipat district which didn’t have a playground and certainly no javelins. As a child, he used to play cricket but not a good one at it. It is just destiny that made him a Javelin thrower. As a 13 year old weighing 77kg, his uncle thought he is overweight and sent him to SAI Panipat to have more physical activity. The SAI Panipat centre was mostly used by track athletes and there were four older Javeline throwers from whom he learned basics of throwing Javeline. He won a bronze at District Championships. Neeraj’s journey as a Javeline thrower began from there.

Vikas Krishan Yadav won Gold in Boxing -Men’s middleweight 75 kg

26-year-old Vikas Krishan Yadav was born in Singhwa Khas, Hisar, Haryana, Vikas started his Boxing training at the age of 10, at the Bhiwani Boxing Club in Bhiwani and later at the Army Sports Institute at Pune. He is working for the Haryana State Electricity Board. Yadav won his first international Gold medal at the 2010 Asian Youth Boxing Championships. In the 2012 Olympic Games in London, he was eliminated for committing fouls and intentionally spitting out his mouthguard. He is an Arjuna Award Winner.

Vinesh Phogat   won Gold for Wrestling – Women’s freestyle 50 kg

23-year-old Vinesh Phogat was born in Balali, Haryana. She is the Cousin of Dangal Movie fame Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari. Vinesh’s another cousin Ritu Phogat, too is an international level wrestler and has won a gold medal at the 2016 Commonwealth Wrestling Championship.

Sumit Malik won Gold in Wrestling – Men’s freestyle 125 kg

25-year-old Sumit Malik was born in Karor village of Haryana’s Rohtak district. At the age of 13, he shifted to Delhi’s Chhatrasal Stadium for wrestling training. He also won silver medal at Asian Wrestling Championships and the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship in 2017. He won the title at Bharat-Kesri’ wrestling event which helped him secure the job of Inspector at Haryana Police. At the Gold Coast event, Canadian Korey Jarvis accused Sumit of biting him during their round-robin bout.

Manika Batra won Gold for Table tennis – Women’s singles

The 22-year-old Manik Batra was born in Delhi She started playing Table Tennis since the age of 3 and currently trained by Sandeep Gupta. In the Wikipedia Page most likely edited by people close to her says, she turned down many modelling offers as a teenager. When she was 16, she rejected a scholarship to train at the Peter Karlsson Academy in Sweden.

Saina Nehwal wins gold at Badminton Singles

28 year old Saina Nehwal was born in Hisar, Haryana. Nehwal, the former world no. 1 has won over twenty-three international titles, which include ten Super series titles. The Government of India conferred, Padma Bhushan, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and the Arjuna Award on her.

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