Five Indian performances that were world class
Even as India finished the Commonwealth Games with one of their best-ever medal hauls, some performances stood out more than others. While competition at the Commonwealth Games is often of a standard lower than that found at the world level, a few Indian competitors showed the potential to have been competitive at any stage.
Mirabai Chanu (women's 48kg weightlifting)
Gold Coast performance (snatch + clean & jerk): 196kg
Gold medal at 2017 World Championships: 194kg
Last September, Mirabai Chanu ended India's 22-year-long drought at the Weightlifting World Championships when she won gold with a total lift of 194kg. That mark was a national record and Chanu improved upon that effort at the Gold Coast Games, lifting a combined total of 196kg -- 86kg in snatch and 110kg in clean & jerk. That total would have been a competitive weight at any world-level competition over the past decade. The last time a weight of 196kg would have finished out of the podium at the Olympics would have been back in 2004 Games when bronze was claimed at 200kg. Indeed, Chanu would have won gold with the weight she lifted at the 2008 Olympics, a bronze in 2012 and a silver at the Rio Olympics.
Manu Bhaker (women's 10m air pistol)
Gold Coast performance: qualification round 388; elimination round 240.9
Top scores at 2017 World Cup final: qualification round 391; elimination round 240.9
Aged 16, Manu Bhaker can only improve as a shooter. That's a frightening prospect for her competitors, considering the dominance the girl from Jhajjhar, Haryana displayed at the Commonwealth Games. Bhaker stormed into the finals at the top of table in the qualifying rounds with a total of 388 after four rounds of shooting. The next best score was nine points behind. While Bhaker's score was five points short of the world record, it would have been more than enough for her to qualify for the final even at world-level competition. At the World Cup finals in New Delhi last year, Bhaker would have qualified for the final in second place behind Zhang Mengxue, who had a total of 291. Bhaker's score in the elimination rounds too would have been competitive. At the World Cup Final, gold went to Celine Goberville, who finished with a score of 240.9 -- exactly the same as Bhaker at the Commonwealth Games.
Punam Yadav (women's 69kg)
Gold Coast performance (snatch+ clean & jerk): 222kg
Bronze at 2017 World Championships: 235kg
Competing in the 63kg weightlifting category, an 18-year-old Punam Yadav won a silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. At the Gold Coast Games, Yadav would manage an upgrade, winning a gold in the women's 69kg with a total lift of 222 kg (100kg snatch and 122kg clean & jerk). It was an improvement of 4kg from her previous best total of 218kg recorded at the World Championships last year. Yadav had finished ninth in that tournament, a result attributable to the fact that she was only competing in her second international tournament at that weight. Yet even there, Yadav improved on the 217kg she had lifted at her first competition. As Yadav gets more comfortable in her new weight category, she would only expect to push her total further. Karnam Malleswari holds the Indian record of 240kg and if Yadav can come within 10kg of that, she would be jostling for a place on the podium.
Neeraj Chopra (men's javelin throw)
Gold Coast performance: 86.47m
Bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics: 85.38m
Neeraj Chopra had all but assured himself of a gold medal in the javelin throw event of the Commonwealth Games with his very first throw of the competition -- a mark of 85.50m. In his third effort, he had almost erased his own national record before falling short by just a centimetre with a throw of 86.47m. The mark would be enough to win gold at the Games. It would have won Chopra gold at any Commonwealth Games since the 2002 edition. The mark would have been competitive at the Olympic level too. It would have seen him finish third at the Rio Olympics and on top of the podium at the London Games. The fact that Chopra is just 20 years old suggests even this mark will soon be eclipsed. To put this into perspective, current world champion Johannes Vetter was 25 years old when he recorded his a personal best of 94.44m last year. Back when he was 20, the German had a best throw of 79.75m.
Hima Das (women's 400m)
Gold Coast performance: 51.32 seconds
Bronze medal at the 2017 World Championships: 50.08 seconds
Hima Das' sixth-place finish in the final of the women's 400m was perhaps the most remarkable race ever run by an Indian debutant in recent memory at the Commonwealth Games. The time Das clocked in the final -- 51.32 seconds -- is only the 18th fastest in the world this year. But it begins looking a lot more remarkable when you realise the 18-year-old sprinter has only been training formally for about a year and has been running the technically challenging quarter-mile for only a fraction of that time. Das has progressed dramatically in the event. She clocked 51.97 seconds at the Federation Cup last month, 51.53 seconds in the rain-soaked semi-finals at Gold Coast and then -- running in an unfavourable inside lane -- improved to 51.32 seconds in the final. It is only a matter of a few races before Das should shatter the 14-year-old national record of 51.05 seconds. Coaches believe she will eventually threaten the 50-second barrier that should put her well within shot of a world medal.