Commonwealth Games 2018: Mary's last shot at CWG medal, Sushil's chance to shine

ESPN India staff members offer their picks for the athletes to watch out for during the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Badminton's best bet

Saina Nehwal remains the only Indian to win the women's singles title at the Commonwealth Games but it will be PV Sindhu, who will start as the favourite in spite of the presence of 2010 champion Saina and 2014 champion Michelle Li.

Sindhu had won bronze in 2014 after losing in the semis to eventual champion Li. World no. 3 Sindhu is the only top 10 player in the women's singles draw this year and has only lost three of her 15 singles matches this year. Few would bet against her to clinch gold this time.

Key dates

April 14: Women's singles semifinals

April 15: Women's singles Gold and Bronze medal matches

- Mohit Shah

New shooting stars look to carry forward proud legacy

India have won 112 Gold medals in the last five editions of the Commonwealth Games, of which, shooters have won 48. While veterans like Gagan Narang, Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Heena Sidhu and Jitu Rai will all be in action, first-timers Manu Bhaker and Mehuli Ghosh are the ones to watch out for.

After drawing a blank at the Rio Olympics, Indian shooters have been in splendid form of late, with nine medals including four golds at the World Cup in Mexico last month, where Bhaker and Ghosh won two golds and a bronze respectively. While 16-year-old Bhaker became the youngest Indian to win an individual gold at a World Cup when she won the 10m air pistol event in Guadalajara, 17-year-old Ghosh won eight medals at the Nationals last year.

Key dates

April 8: Manu Bhaker, 10m air pistol

April 9: Mehuli Ghosh, 10m air rifle

- Debdatta Sengupta

Mary Kom's tryst with destiny

One of India's most decorated sportspersons ever, MC Mary Kom has won it all - except for a CWG medal. Beaten to the Glasgow 2014 squad by compatriot Pinki Rani for the inaugural women's boxing at the Games, she returns hungry for success, and will be fighting in the 45-48kg category, with Pinki a weight division above her. This could also be one of her last realistic chances to medal at a multi-sport event, as she turns 36 this November.

-Debayan Sen

Key dates

April 11: Semi-finals

April 14: Final

Can hockey bring back golden memories?

In five previous editions of hockey at the Games, India's record has been ordinary, barring a gold for the women's team in 2002 beating England in Manchester. With 2018 being a World Cup year, any momentum gained against Commonwealth rivals would be handy for both teams, which should advance to the semi-finals from their respective five-team pools.

Australia would be the principal threat for both -- the men go into a major event without Sardar Singh in midfield for the first time in a decade, and the women will look to build on an Asia Cup win under Harendra Singh -- and beating the hosts would be the key in the search for the elusive gold.

Key dates

April 7: India v Pakistan (men)

April 12: Women' semi-finals

April 13: Men's semi-finals

April 14: Bronze medal match and final (both men and women)

-Debayan Sen

Sushil chance to ease off criticism and controversy

At 34, Sushil Kumar's career is on the wane, but the double Olympic medallist is still favourite to win a third gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. Competing in the 74kg category, Sushil won gold at last year's Commonwealth Championships, with his closest challenge coming from compatriot Parveen Kumar. The latter will not be at Gold Coast after being beaten by Sushil in an acrimonious selection trial. A CWG gold would go some way in erasing some of the controversy surrounding his recent performances.

Key dates

April 12: Men's freestyle 74 kg

-Jonathan Selvaraj

Tejaswin Shankar and Neeraj Chopra

Over the past two years, high jumper Tejaswin Shankar and javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra have become the standard bearers of Indian track and field athletes, holding national records in their respective events. At only 19 (Shankar) and 20 (Chopra) the Commonwealth Games will be the biggest multi sport games for each.

With former Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott and Keshorn Walcott out of form, Chopra has a good chance to medal, having recorded the best throw by any Commonwealth athlete this season. Tejaswin has it a little harder. While he recorded a personal best of 2.28m last month, Gold Coast will feature three other athletes who have cleared at least as much this season.

Key dates

April 11: Men's high jump

April 14: Men's javelin throw

-Jonathan Selvaraj


Rakesh Patra, a finalist at the World Cup in Melbourne earlier this year, will be India's biggest hope, his chances for a medal are slim. Better prospects lie in the men and women's vault. Ashish Kumar, a former silver medallist in the event at the 2010 Games, although his form has tapered off since. India's best hopes lie in Aruna Reddy, who became the first Indian to medal at a World Cup in Melbourne this year.

Key dates

April 5-9: Artistic gymnastics medal events

April 11 to 13: Rhythmic gymnastics medal events

-Jonathan Selvaraj

Saurav Ghosal a dark horse in squash

India have won just one medal in the sport of squash at the Commonwealth Games - a gold at Glasgow through the women's doubles pair of Joshana Chinnappa and Dipika Pallikal. Indian hopes at Gold Coast rest on the two once again. Expectations are lower in the singles events. World No 16 Joshna is the top Indian in the women's draw, seeded eighth, while Dipika, world No 20, is ninth. Saurav Ghosal, who lost out in the bronze medal playoffs in Glasgow, is seeded third in the draw this time around, and could turn out to be a dark horse.

Key dates

April 9: Singles medal events (men and women)

April 14: Mixed doubles medal events

April 15: Doubles medal events (men and women)

-Jonathan Selvaraj

Para-athletes look to make a mark

India have an eight-member strong contingent in three para-events at CWG, with men's lightweight powerlifter Farman Basha among the most experienced in the field. Basha will be heading to his fourth Games, and will look to do better than his 10th place finish on debut in Melbourne 12 years ago. The para-athletes contingent also has a stronger representation on the women's side, with five of the eight athletes including powerlifter Sakina Khatun, table-tennis players Maitreyee Sarkar and Vaishnavi Sutar, and swimmers Vaishnavi Jagtap and Kiran Tak.

Key dates

April 6: Kiran Tak, women's S9 100m backstroke

April 10: Vaishnavi Jagtap, women's S8 50m freestyle

April 10: Para powerlifting medal events

April 14: Women's TT6 singles medal events

-Debayan Sen