It's almost time. The Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 will begin on July 28 with the opening ceremony taking place at the Alexander Stadium. The events will kickstart from July 29 and will continue till August 8.
Here's all you need to know about India's CWG 2022 campaign:
Who takes part in Commonwealth Games?
Commonwealth Games (CWG) is an international multi-sport event held once every four years for members of the Commonwealth; an association of 72 countries with the majority of them being part of the erstwhile British Empire. Athletes from member nations take part in a range of sporting events mostly happening in one host city and compete for the gold, silver and bronze medals just like in the Olympics Games. However, sporting heavyweights like US, China and EU countries are not part of the competition.
The first Commonwealth Games took place in Hamilton, Canada, in 1930. It was then known as the British Empire Games. Birmingham is hosting the 22nd edition of the Games. The para-sports events will also take place simultaneously in the city.
How many events are there in CWG?
There are now 16 sports in the core group which must be present at all CWG. In addition, there are also four core parasports.
The core sports are swimming, athletics, road cycling, artistic gymnastics, lawn bowls, table tennis, triathlon, freestyle wrestling, badminton, boxing, field hockey, judo, netball, rugby sevens, squash and weightlifting. The core para sports are swimming, athletics, powerlifting and lawn bowls.
There are also optional sports, which the host nation has the power to choose from. At the Birmingham Games, women's cricket (T20), basketball 3x3, wheelchair basketball 3x3, and mixed synchronised diving will make their debut. Overall, there are 23 sports and seven para sports at Birmingham.
Why are Commonwealth Games important for Indian athletes?
The CWG is one of three multi-sport events (the others being Olympics and Asian Games) for Indian athletes. It's a chance to go up against the best athletes from the world, especially from Australia, England, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.
India have done well at the CWG, winning 181 gold medals which is the fourth highest in the history of the Games. Australia dominate the Games with 932 gold medals, followed by England (714 gold medals) and Canada (484 gold medals).
Usually for Indian athletes, the CWG is followed by Asian Games. Both events are great opportunities for athletes to make their mark on the world stage. This year, the Asian Games have been postponed due to COVID-19 situation in China.
Why is there no shooting and archery at the Birmingham CWG?
Shooting is India's most successful sport at the CWG. India have dominated the sport, winning the most number of medals - 63 gold and 135 in total - in the event. At the last CWG in Gold Coast, shooting fetched the most number of medals - seven gold and 16 in total.
However, shooting comes under optional sports and the host nation decided to not include it in the 2022 roster. According to Birmingham 2022 chief executive Ian Reid, the proposed location for shooting, at Bisley in Surrey, "offered little or no benefit to the West Midlands".
The move was opposed vehemently by the Indian Olympic Association and faced criticism from country's best shooters, with India threatening to boycott the event. Later, the Commonwealth Games Federation Executive Board worked out a compromise with IOA where a separate archery and shooting championships among Commonwealth nations will take place in Chandigarh, India and the medals were to be added to the overall tally after a week from closing ceremony. These events failed to take place due to COVID-19 issues.
Like shooting, archery is also an optional sport under CWG charter. But unlike shooting, archery was included in just two CWG editions, the last being the New Delhi Games in 2010.
Which events can India dominate in Birmingham 2022?
India's overall medal tally will get impacted due to the absence of shooting, but there are also other sports where India have traditionally done well. They can expect multiple gold medals in wrestling, boxing, weightlifting and badminton, which will see a field where Indian athletes will be the favourites.
How many athletes will represent India at the CWG 2022?
A 205-member contingent will be in Birmingham with athletes competing in events across 15 sports. Here's the full list of Indian athletes.
Who are the favourites for the gold medal?
Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra has pulled out of the Games due to an injury but there are others who are strong contenders for the gold medal in their respective events. ESPN has listed out 10 and you can read about them here.
Apart from Chopra, who are the other top Indian athletes who'll miss the CWG?
The likes of Mary Kom and Saina Nehwal, who have consistently done well at these big multi-sports events, will be missing the Birmingham Games. Click here to know more about top Indian athletes who are not taking part in CWG 2022.
Who are the fresh faces from India who can make an impact?
There are also athletes who will begin their CWG journey in Birmingham. They are promising athletes with a bright future and you can read about them here.
How to plan your daily CWG schedule?
Considering the UK timezone, the key events of Indian athletes will start at 2 PM and continue throughout the night. Here's the day-wise schedule of big names from the Indian contingent and their medal events (if they qualify to the final rounds).
Weightlifting: Mirabai Chanu in the 49kg final. Time: Between 8 PM and 10.15 PM.
Weightlifting: Jeremy Lalrinnunga in men's 67 kg final. Time: Between 1:30 PM to 4.30 PM IST.
Table tennis: Women's team final - Manika Batra, Sreeja Akula, Reeth Rishya, Diya Chitale. Time: Between 2 and 7 PM IST.
Table tennis: Men's team medal matches - Sharath Kamal, Gnanasekaran Sathiyan, Harmeet Desai and Sanil Shetty. Time: Between 3.30 and 9 PM IST.
Squash: Men's and women's singles medal round Team (M): Saurav Ghosal, Ramit Tandon and Abhay Singh. Team (W): Joshana Chinappa, Sunyana Kuruvilla and Anahat Singh. Time: Between 8.30 PM and 1 AM IST.
Athletics: Men's long jump final - M Sreeshankar and Muhammed Anees Yahiya. Time: Between 11 PM to 2.15 AM.
Wrestling: Women's finals in 57kg, 62kg, 68kg and men's final 65kg, 86kg, 125kg. Athletes: Anshu Malik (57kg), Sakshi Malik (62kg), Divya Kakran (68kg); Bajrang Punia (65kg), Deepak Punia (86kg) and Mohit Grewal (125kg). Time: Between 9.30 PM to 12 AM IST.
Athletics: Men's steeplechase final - Avinash Sable Time: Between 2.30 and 6.45 PM IST. Wrestling: Women's all round matches including finals in 50kg, 53kg, 76kg and men's final in 57kg, 74kg, and 97kg. Athletes: Pooja Gehlot (50kg), Vinesh Phogat (53kg), Pooja Sihag (76kg); Ravi Kumar Dahiya (57kg) and Naveen (74kg). Time: Between 9.30 PM and 6.45 PM IST.
Athletics: men's javelin throw final - DP Manu and Rohit Yadav. Time: Between 11 PM and 2 AM IST. Boxing finals which might include key athletes like: Nitu, Amit Panghal, Nikhat Zareen, Lovlina Borgohain, Shiva Thapa and Rohit Tokas. Time: Starts at 2.30 PM IST.
Badminton: Men's and women's singles gold medal matches - Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth, PV Sindhu. Men's hockey bronze and gold medal matches: Time: Starts at 1.30 PM.
When and where can you watch it?
The CWG events will start from July 29 and will be live on Sony.