As a nation, we love gold. We buy it, store, it, save it and flaunt it. Since the start of the Commonwealth Games earlier this week, it seems that the kind of gold India should be obsessed with is the kind we’re winning at the Commonwealth Games!
The Commonwealth Games are on, and Indian players are at their peak, making out country proud and smashing records. While our athletes are giving their best, we must ask: Why do these names storm the news only during a tournament like the CWG or the Olympics?
Surely, sports in India doesn’t mean just cricket! As citizens and our athletes’ biggest cheerleaders, it’s our responsibility to know who they are – because that’s the support they deserve even off the field.
Here’s some more information for you to know four of our star CWG athletes better:
1. Shooter Heena Sidhu: Gold medallist in the 25m women’s pistol event
Giving India it’s 11th Gold. Believe it or not, record breaker Heena Sidhu chose shooting as a sport only to get through a Bachelor of Dental Surgery programme! Her father and uncle were big sports when it came to shooting, and set up a shooting range in their backyard. Heena has shattered gender stereotypes, and has also refused to bow down to oppressive rules such as compulsory hijab in Iran.
2. Shooter Jitu Rai: Gold medallist in the 10m men’s pistol event
Born and brought up in a village in the middle of a forest in Nepal, Jitu migrated to India and joined the Gorkha Rifles in the Indian Army. A star marksman, he has worked hard to reach where he is, facing rejection in his early years. The son of a farmer-turned- army man, Jitu is determined to continue making the country proud and has made the sport of shooting his sole focus.
3. Weightlifter Poonam Yadav: Gold medallist in the women’s 69kg category
Poonam’s weightlifting journey has been successful, yet full of challenges. It’s a tale of sheer grit. Many times, she had to go hungry because of her training. When it came to sending her abroad, Poonam’s family had to sell their buffalo to collect the required funds. Initially, people in her town used to make fun of her family and taunt them because they were encouraging Poonam to play. Today, the same people treat the family with immense respect and understand that weightlifting is a woman’s sport as much as anyone else’s!
4. Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu: Gold medallist in the women’s 48kg category
Hailing from Imphal, Manipur, Mirabai Chanu’s first success came in 2014
Commonwealth Games, when she took home the silver medal. The 23-year- old currently works as a ticket checker and has been awarded the Padma Shri this year. She was inspired to take up wrestling by watching the weightlifting stalwart Kunjarani Devi. The count, of course, doesn’t end here.
The Hindu has a comprehensive list of medal winners at the Commonwealth Games. Do take a look at it here, and don’t forget to cheer for India!