CWG 2022: Neeraj Chopra to Mary Kom, top Indian athletes who will miss Birmingham Games

Neeraj Chopra will miss the Commonwealth Games due to a groin injury. BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

Indian sports' spate of misfortune in 2022 continued ahead of the Commonwealth Games as news of Neeraj Chopra missing out the Birmingham event through injury emerged on Tuesday. While other big names like PV Sindhu and Mirabai Chanu set to impress, the sheen from India's contingent has arguably been scuffed.

Like Chopra, there are other big names that usually shine bright for India at these events that are missing out - here are a few of them:

Neeraj Chopra


Look, he's the golden boy of Indian sports for a reason - and some have christened him the GOAT with merit to their arguments. The sight of Chopra rampaging through to launch his javelin inspires confidence in those watching at home - this isn't usually the case when it comes to Indian sports, let alone athletics.

It's a cruel twist of fate then that the throw which earned Chopra his first medal at the World Championships (Silver), perhaps ended up injuring him. A groin strain has ruled out the reigning Olympic champion from the Commonwealth Games, with Chopra advised to take a month's rest. A small consolation is that he'd already won gold in the 2018 Gold Coast games, so his record for medals at major events remains intact.

The Birmingham Games were all set for another titanic clash between world champion Anderson Peters and the Olympic champion, but that scenario has gone up in smoke. There are hopes that DP Manu or Rohit Yadav could surprise a few, but maybe a medal is a step too far for them right now.

MC Mary Kom

Six-time world champion and defending champion from the 2018 Games in her weight class, Mary Kom missed out on the opportunity to defend her title after suffering a knee injury mid-bout against two-time world youth gold-medallist Nitu Ghanghas during the CWG trials. The veteran boxer even attempted to resume the bout before the referee stopped the contest and awarded Nitu the win.

Mary Kom had opted against competing in the world championships (where Nitu reached the quarterfinal, and even defeated Mary's long-time rival Steluta Duta in her worlds' debut) with an eye on the Commonwealth Games and the now-postponed Asian Games. Given the 39-year-old is potentially approaching the end of her career, there were hopes of a final swansong, but that is not to be.

Saina Nehwal

An arguably controversial absence, as by all accounts Saina Nehwal wanted the chance to defend her 2018 CWG gold medal, where she defeated Sindhu in the final. However, the Badminton Association of India ruled that only players ranked 15 and above in the world could skip trials for the CWG and Asian Games (Saina was ranked 23rd).

The trials were set within a cramped calendar and the 32-year-old pulled out of the trials citing injury/fatigue concerns.

While Nehwal's form has suffered of late - she has only made the semifinal of a BWF Tour event once in the last three years - her experience might have come in handy in the team events. Either way, BAI stuck to their guns and Aakarshi Kashyap made it through the trials to make the squad for the second singles spot after PV Sindhu.

Rani Rampal

Rampal was excluded from the Women's Hockey World Cup and Commonwealth Games squads for India because she couldn't regain full fitness after a long injury layoff. She has played only one match for the national side since the Tokyo Olympics. Yet, there was an air of the team having moved on in her absence, with the strength of the collective underlining Janneke Schopman's plans for the side.

However, finishing was one of the key areas where India struggled during the recently concluded World Cup, finishing ninth. Rampal's ability to find the net, even as a backup option, could surely have aided the side in their bid to medal at the Commonwealth Games. With Savita Punia continuing her heroics in goal, as well as captaining the side, perhaps Birmingham is where the successors of Rampal will finally step up.

Tajinderpal Singh Toor

India's top shot-putter and Asian record holder, Tajinderpal Singh Toor was initially named in India's CWG athletics squad, subject to him meeting the qualification mark at an event in Kazakhstan. However an injury sustained in the training camp at Chula Vista, USA ahead of the World Championships placed doubt regarding his participation.

Toor showed up for the qualification event at the Worlds, threw a couple of practice throws and opted against participating, so as to not aggravate his groin injury. The 27-year-old has endured a torrid time with injuries over the last couple of years, carrying a wrist injury in the Tokyo Olympics where he failed to qualify for the finals.

HS Prannoy

Arguably the hero of India's Thomas Cup triumph, HS Prannoy was a surprising, albeit understandable, exclusion from the Commonwealth Games squad. His last-game heroics were key in the quarterfinals against Malaysia, and the semifinals against Denmark, where Prannoy held his nerve to take India through to the final.

The CWG squads for badminton are limited to 10-member squads only, so with four spots taken up by the singles (Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth, PV Sindhu, Aakarshi Kashyap) and four spots taken up by the doubles (Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty, Gayatri Gopichand-Treesa Jolly), there was only enough for one mixed doubles pair - with the pair of B Sumeeth Reddy-Ashwini Ponnappa rounding out the team.

Prannoy's status as India's third best men's singles player was not enough to carry him through. His ability to keep his calm in clutch moments during team events will be sorely missed. However, India are favourites in badminton, even in the team events and perhaps his penchant for final-game wins might not even be needed.

Athletes from shooting, archery and athletics

Seven gold, four silver and five bronze medals - that was the haul from India's shooting squad at the 2018 Gold Coast games. Given the exclusion of the discipline in the Birmingham Games, it's a pity the likes of Manu Bhaker, Saurabh Chaudhary et al won't be afforded a chance to exorcise the ghosts of Tokyo.

Archery has only featured twice in the history of the Commonwealth Games (last in 2010, in India), and is an optional sport depending on the host. Ergo, it was unlikely that the eight medal haul from that discipline achieved in 2010 would be reprised, especially with the likes of Deepika Kumari stumbling in form of late.

S Dhanalakshmi (100m and 4x100 relay), Aishwarya Babu (Triple Jump) and Kamalpreet Kaur (discus throw) will miss the games due to doping violations.