New Delhi: India announced Thursday a 215-member athlete contingent across 16 disciplines for the Commonwealth Games (CWG) beginning July 28 in Birmingham. On the sidelines of the send off-ceremony for the CWG bound athletes, IOA acting president Anil Khanna called it a ‘gender-neutral contingent’ with 108 men and 107 women being part of the touring party.
The overall CWG contingent count stands at 322 including 72 team officials, 26 extra officials, nine contingent staff, including three general managers. Odisha’s Dutee Chand and Srabani Nanda are also part of the CWG contingent.
Discipline-wise, the biggest contingent is of athletics and hockey (36 entries each). India will also take part in women’s cricket, which is making its CWG debut, aquatics, badminton, table tennis, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, triathlon, wrestling, weightlifting, lawn bowls, squash, judo and para sports.
India have only won 28 medals in athletics in CWG history but World Championship medal-winning long jumper Anju Bobby George is expecting a rich haul of at least seven medals this time with Neeraj Chopra expected to win gold in javelin. Chopra is also likely to be India’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony.
“We have about 13 athletes who could be in the medals bracket for second and third position but we are expecting seven medals at least across javelin, long jump, triple jump and discus,” Anju said.
Rajesh Bhandari was appointed chef de mission after Onkar Singh’s withdrawal. Onkar was Indian Olympic Association’s was first choice for the chef de mission role but he requested the acting president Anil Khanna to consider someone else as he is not ready to take up the responsibility due to health issues.
The IOA has now chosen Bhandari, who was earlier named one of the three general managers of the contingent, for the role. Bhandari is currently the secretary of the Himachal Pradesh Olympic Association.
Mehta also announced that IOA will be rewarding CWG gold medallist with Rs 20 lakh, Rs 10 lakh for silver and Rs 7.5 lakh for bronze winner.
The send off ceremony was attended by Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, who also reviewed India’s preparations for CWG in a Mission Olympic Cell meeting held before the function. The ministry has helped facilitate 111 exposure trips in disciplines that India will be compete in Birmingham 2022. Several elite athletes have been training abroad post-Olympics at government cost, as per their training plan.