CWG 2022: How did India's top stars fare? Reputations that were enhanced, maintained or dented


The 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games witnessed some of India's top athletes living up to their reputation. A few produced really impressive results, punching above their weight while a couple of them ended up disappointing.

Here's a look at 15 top athletes from India and how they fared at the CWG 2022:

Sharath Kamal

Reputation: Enhanced

What a story! Sharath Kamal has always seen success at the Commonwealth Games but to win three gold medals and one silver is a phenomenal achievement.

He was expected to do well in the team and doubles events, like he did in previous editions, but Sharath went a step further. He won his first singles gold since the 2006 Melbourne Games, beating Liam Pitchford of England.

Sharath and Sreeja Akula, who won mixed doubles national title earlier this year, paired up for the Commonwealth Games and went all the way to win gold. Sharath also won the top prize in the team event while he and G Sathiyan secured silver in the men's doubles.

Lakshya Sen

Reputation: Enhanced

Despite being the top seed, Lakshya Sen was not counted as a strong contender for gold prior to the games. He didn't feature in any tournament a month prior to the CWG. The last time he played on court before the Birmingham Games was against HS Prannoy at the Indonesia Open - where he lost the opening round match. There was also an injury concern with his shoulder right before the CWG.

But Sen, who is a bronze medallist in the World Championships, showed why he'll soon be in the world class category. Against Malaysia's Ng Tze Yong, Sen came from behind to win the gold in an intense battle - 19-21, 21-9, 21-16. Ng had beaten World Championships gold and silver medallist - Loh Kean Yew and Kidambi Srikanth - on his way to the final.

He won the opening game in the final but Sen's strong defence and his ability to maintain the gap after taking the lead proved to be vital. The skills were always there and now he's gaining valuable experience of performing under pressure.

Vinesh Phogat

Reputation: Enhanced

If anyone needed a big performance at the CWG after the Tokyo Olympics, it was Vinesh Phogat. After making a second-round exit in Tokyo, Phogat was suspended by Wrestling Federation of India due to indiscipline. She had to battle through depression, concussion issues and elbow surgery to be on the big stage again.

The CWG field for her category - 53kg - was not strong but Phogat still had to win three bouts in the Nordic system. And she did it in style, winning all three by pinning her opponents to clinch her third successive CWG gold medal.

Nikhat Zareen

Reputation: Enhanced

Zareen entered the Birmingham Games in terrific form. She was the world champion in the 52kg division and had won gold at the prestigious Strandja Memorial boxing tournament. This was a new weight category - 50kg - but that didn't affect her performance one bit.

In her first bout, the referee had to stop the contest because her opponent Helena Bagao Moz of Mozambique took a battering from Zareen. She won the next three bouts (quarters, semis and the final) by 5-0 unanimous decisions. None of her opponents even came close to giving her a scare.

Amit Panghal

Reputation: Maintained

Expectations were high from Panghal at the 2020 Olympics, but he was knocked out in the pre-quarterfinals. The Tokyo disappointment lingered for months and Panghal admitted to being 'broken'. He skipped the nationals and World Championship to focus on his game and he made his comeback at the Thailand International, where he won silver.

Panghal's big test post Tokyo was the CWG 2022, and he was at his best in every bout. He defeated all his opponents by 5-0 unanimous decisions. Sure, the competition was not strongest, but the gold medal will give him a big boost as he prepares to make an impact at the Paris Olympics 2024.

Nitu Ghanghas

Reputation: Enhanced

Ghanghas, only 21, has started filling the big boots of Mary Kom. This was her debut Commonwealth Games and a chance to earn the first big medal of her career. She lived up to expectations by winning gold but it's her aggressive performances that really stood out.

Nicole Clyde of Northern Ireland, the opponent in Ghanghas' opening bout, had to abandon the match after taking one too many to her face. Ghanghas' next fight against Canada's Priyanka Dhillon was stopped by the referee in the third round after the Indian dominated her with fierce punches.

Her final against the experienced Demie-Jade Resztan of England was expected to be tricky but Ghanghas was once again ruthless with her punches and won the bout and the gold medal after a 5-0 unanimous decision.

Indian men's hockey team

Reputation: Maintained

Considering the team, form and the group, India were expected to reach the semifinals. Anything less would've been a massive failure. They finished on top of their group, ahead of England and defeated South Africa to qualify for the final.

In the gold medal match however, Australia gave them a proper lesson in how to convert chances as well as how to defend inside the circle. They did not concede a single penalty corner as Australia cruised to their seventh CWG gold medal with a 7-0 victory.

Indian women's hockey team

Reputation: Maintained

The Indian women's hockey team came to Birmingham after a difficult World Cup campaign where they finished ninth. The primary goal was to finish in the top two spots of their group and qualify for the semifinals. They did that with victories over Ghana, Wales and Canada while they lost their match against England.

India lost the semifinal against Australia in a controversial shootout but overcame the heartbreak in the bronze medal match where they defeated New Zealand in the shootout thanks to Savita Punia's heroics.

PV Sindhu

Reputation: Maintained

Sindhu came into the Commonwealth Games as the top seed and a strong contender for the gold medal. She made sure she left Birmingham with a CWG singles gold medal which she failed to win in the previous two editions.

Sindhu dropped just one game - against Jin Wei Goh in quarterfinals - en route her gold medal. The quarters, semis and the final were tough contests, but Sindhu nailed the big moments to win.

Mirabai Chanu

Reputation: Maintained

The Olympic silver medallist did no damage to her reputation in Birmingham as she lifted 29kgs more than her closest competitor to take home the gold in the 49kg event.

In the snatch category, her best effort was 88kg which was a new Commonwealth and Games record. In the clean and jerk, her best was 113kg while the total of 201kg was also the new Games record.

The next best were Marie Ranaivosoa of Mauritius with a total of 172kg and Canada's Hannah Kaminski with 171kg. Those numbers perfectly reflect Mirabai's dominance.

Murali Sreeshankar

Reputation: Maintained

This season, Sreeshankar was consistently coming up with 8m+ jumps and finished above his rivals (7th) from Commonwealth Nations at the World Championships.

In the finals at the CWG, Sreeshankar struggled to touch 8m in the first four jumps which put him out of medal contention. But like he did in the past, under pressure, he produced one good effort to go up in the rankings - 8.08m, the same as leader Laquan Nairn of Bahamas. He missed out on gold on countback (Nairn's second best was better than Sreeshankar's).

Ravi Kumar Dahiya

Reputation: Maintained

Olympic silver medallist Dahiya was so far ahead of his competitors that he didn't even need a full six minutes in any of his matches as he clinched gold.

He started his campaign with a quarterfinal bout against New Zealand's Suraj Singh and won via technical superiority 10-0 in just one minute and 14 seconds. He defeated Pakistan's Ali Asad 14-4 in just over three minutes and 17 seconds to enter the final.

Dahiya won the final again by technical superiority against Nigeria's Ebikewenimo Welson. The bout was over in two minutes and 16 seconds.

Bajrang Punia

Reputation: Maintained

Like Dahiya, Bajrang Punia was a favourite to win the top prize and like Dahiya, he didn't face much competition at CWG 2022.

He made it to the semifinals by pinning both his opponents in the previous rounds. Up against England's George Ramm, Punia secured a victory by technical superiority 10-0 in just 90 seconds. In the final, Lachlan McNeil tried his best couldn't overhaul Punia's healthy lead in six minutes. Punia won the gold after securing most points 9-2.

Manika Batra

Reputation: Dented

Batra was the breakout star at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018, winning four medals, including a gold in the women's singles event. Four years later, despite a good show by the table tennis team, Batra failed to win even a single medal.

She lost quarterfinal matches in women's singles, women's doubles and mixed doubles. In a crucial women's team quarterfinal tie, Batra lost both her singles matches as India were defeated by Singapore.

The off-field controversies surrounding her and the table tennis federation certainly didn't help in terms of preparations for the Games.

Lovlina Borgohain

Reputation: Dented

The Olympic bronze medallist was looking to make amends after her failure to win a medal at the World Championships. She began on a strong note, winning her Round of 16 bout but suffered a shock loss in the quarterfinals against eventual gold medallist Rosie Eccles of Wales.

However, she's not too worried about the loss because the weight category - 70kg - does not figure in the 2024 Paris Games. "That's why CWG was not that important to me as my main target is Paris and this was not an Olympic weight category. It would not have helped me much in the larger scheme of things," Lovlina told the media after her loss.