A record-smashing Mirabai Chanu and a perseverant P Gururaja claimed gold and silver respectively as weightlifters lived up to the pre-event hype by delivering opening-day medals for India while star badminton players added to the cheer by making a winning start in the 21st Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast.
Chanu smashed the Games records in 48kg category snatch, clean and jerk and overall en route her gold-medal winning performance, which fetched her a thunderous applause from the Australian fans, who queued up to take her autograph after the medal ceremony. Chanu managed to lift 196kg (86kg+110kg) in a remarkable effort.
“I was not expecting to break records but I certainly wanted to break them when I came here. I can’t put in words, how it feels right now,” a jubilant Chanu told PTI.
Earlier, Gururaja survived a few anxious moments after two failed attempts in clean and jerk to claim a silver medal.
The 25-year-old son of a truck driver equalled his personal best of 249kg (111kg+138kg) to finish second in the event and ensure that India woke up to the news of a medal on the very first day of competitions.
“After I failed the first two attempts, my coach reminded me how much my life depends on this. I remembered my family and my country,” he said when asked what went through his mind in those nervy moments.
Raja Muthupandi (62kg) was the third weightlifter in contention today but he lost out to much superior competition and finished sixth overall with a total effort of 266kg (116kg+150kg).
Weightlifting was not the only reason why India could boast of a good opening day. The much-hyped shuttlers also made a winning start to their campaign, defeating Sri Lanka and Pakistan 5-0 respectively in the mixed team event matches.
Saina Nehwal, who was making headlines before the Games, showed no signs of weariness as she dispatched her rival Madushika Beruelage in a mere 22 minutes.
She was later in action against Pakistan as well and was her usual clinical self against Mahoor Shahzad, claiming a straight-game triumph in 26 minutes to ensure that India had a winning day to celebrate.
Veteran Manoj Kumar (69kg) was the lone boxer in action on day one and the 2010 CWG gold-medallist hammered Nigeria’s Osita Umeh to move into the pre-quarterfinals. The former Asian medallist won on a unanimous decision.
Rakesh Patra also qualified for the Rings final to be held on April 8. Patra, picked in the squad after the selection fiasco before the Games, is the only Indian to make it to the finals of an individual apparatus and qualified in fifth place.
Yogeshwar Singh has qualified for the All Rounds final on April 7, to make it two finals selections for India on day 1.
On the squash court, Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinnappa, who would be defending their women’s doubles gold medal, made winning starts in their singles competitions.
While Pallikal got the better of Trinidad and Tobago’s Charlotte Knaggs, Chinnappa sailed past Papua New Guinea’s Lynette Vai.
But Saurav Ghosal’s 2-3 defeat to Jamaica’s Chris Binnie came as a massive shocker even though Harinder Pal Sandhu and Vikram Malhotra won their respective opening matches.
“It’s hard because this is the biggest thing for us squash players and I planned a lot over the last year and put in a lot of hard work. Obviously it hasn’t worked out and it’s something I have to live with for the rest of my life,” the dejected world No.13 Ghosal said after the loss.
“It wasn’t the best match to play from the first point. It was not the way I was taught to play squash. I guess you have to find a way whatever circumstances you are in, but I couldn’t find that way to win,” he added.
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The table tennis players got past their initial hurdles rather easily with the women’s team defeating Sri Lanka 3-0. The men’s team blanked Trinidad and Tobago 3-0 before beating Northern Ireland by a similar margin.
The women’s hockey team lost 2-3 to Wales in their opener, a massive shock for the 10th-ranked Indians at the hands of the world no. 26 team.
In the swimming pool, Virdhawal Khade qualified for the semifinals of the 50m men’s butterfly event but could not make the final, finishing 15th overall. Sajan Prakash failed to even make the semifinals in the same event.
(Read more: Catch up with all the events of day one on our live blog)
The Indians were not much of a force on the cycling track either, finishing sixth in the Women’s Team Sprint, which ruled them out of medal contention. The men’s team did even worse, finishing seventh in their competition.