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April 03, 2018

Commonwealth Games 2018: 5 Indian Athletes To Watch Out For

Our guide to the most compelling stars you should be watching and rooting for at the CWG

PV SINDHU (badminton)

The shuttler, who won a bronze medal four years ago in Glasgow, is the flag-bearer for the Indian contingent and,  is the top favourite for bagging a gold in her domain.

Excerpts from interactions with Verve:

“My journey so far is a result of hard work and one that I owe to the sacrifices of my parents. Secondly, I would credit my coaches because of whom I have been improving year after year and have achieved great rankings and come so far.”

“I know that there is a lot riding on every game. When you are playing, after a win, the pressure to win again is higher. But, I do not go on court thinking that I have to win again as that adds unnecessary stress. I play knowing that I have to give my best, knowing that I have trained enough.”

“If you have to overcome hurdles, the main thing is to have confidence in yourself.”

SAKSHI MALIK (wrestling)

She won a silver medal four years ago in Glasgow and followed that with a bronze at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Travelling from Rohtak to Rio, she became the first Indian girl to win an Olympics individual wrestling medal. The girl, who got married a year ago, is looking forward to increasing her tally in this year’s edition of the Games – having experienced mixed fortunes in 2017 (she won gold at the Commonwealth World Championships but bit the dust in the first round at the World Wrestling Championship).

Excerpts from interactions with Verve:

“Every time I look at the Olympic medal, I realise that it has been worth all the pain and effort. It has been a long and difficult road, and there’s still a long way to cover. I am one among you, and if I could do it, so can you.”

“Wrestling has taught me the values of hard work and never giving up. There are absolutely no shortcuts in sports or in life. You need to stay on till the very last moment.”

“Winning is a feeling that you cannot describe. You have trained rigorously, lost weight, starved to get into shape but when you stand on the podium, all the struggles are forgotten. When they are raising your country’s flag, it is the best feeling in the world.”

KIDAMBI SRIKANTH (BADMINTON)

Last year saw him bag an unprecedented four Superseries titles, a feat that put him in the world number 2 spot and made him a wonder boy in the world of shuttlecocks.

Excerpts from an interaction withVerve:

“I set achievable targets, which help me to focus and train harder. I do not run after positions, but it does feel good to be up there. Now, after my success, people recognise me — however, that is not just because of me alone. It is because badminton as a sport is growing. But, all of us as players have to perform and do consistently well. Only then will things get better.”

“Though I am not like that in real life, I am aggressive on court. It is not difficult for me to get into that mode. Earlier, I would scream a lot while playing. But, as I have matured as a player, I do not show as much emotion as I used to. I soon realised that if I do too much of that, I lose control of myself while playing. And that is not a good thing for my game.”

“If you play well, you win; if you play badly, you lose. It is that simple. You definitely have to work harder to win though!”

MANGTE CHUNGNEIJANG MARY KOM (boxing)

At 35, the veteran fighter returns for a shot at a medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. The champion, who has inspired generations of players and already boasts an impressive tally of medals, is one to watch and applaud – for her sheer grit, determination and focus.

Excerpts from an interaction with Verve:

“As a little girl, I couldn’t have what I wanted and needed. And that kept me going even when things got tough. Many a time I did want to give up, but I was determined to win in life and change my family’s destiny.”

“It definitely feels good to have done and achieved so much. I am happy to be able to set an example for my fellow athletes and young girls. I would like to encourage girls to opt for a career in sports as it is one of the best professions in the world.”

“As far as the future is concerned, I want to establish a full-fledged boxing academy so as to produce more champions for the country with the help of my experience and skills.”

GAGAN NARANG (shooting)

Gagan Narang’s six-medal haul at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi (2010) and his feat of shooting for a double silver on the opening day of the Asian Games in Guangzhou just a few weeks later, made him a new hero of India’s sporting arena. He is bound to be looking at going in to this edition of the CWG with all guns blazing.

Excerpts from an interaction withVerve:

“I took to shooting entirely as a fun and games pastime. While growing up, I was always an introvert, but fun loving. I wanted to explore new things.”

“I have carved a place in the record books or become part of sporting history. Creating records is very special but I do not go out with that on my mind. It happens along the course when the mind and the body are in sync. That is the most desirable state for any sportsman.”

“I cannot allow fears to colour my mind. I keep them away. The only anxiety that I have is performance anxiety and that helps me perk up my performance. But I must admit it is very tiring and can take a toll on an individual.”

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