ESPN India's favourite Commonwealth Games moments

ESPN staff5 Minute Read
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Twelve days, 218 athletes and 66 medals later, ESPN India staff members pick out their favourite moments from the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

Tejaswini Sawant is one of India's most decorated shooters in Commonwealth Games history. Unfortunately, she has never qualified for the Olympics, and at 37, that chance may have passed. Her score of 457.9 in the final of the 50m rifle 3 positions event here would have been good enough for a bronze at the Rio Olympics. Tejaswini's final shot of 10.5 and her typically understated reaction after winning gold was my favourite moment from Gold Coast. - Mohit Shah


The moment when Manika Batra sealed the gold medal for India.Phil Walter/Getty Images

The passion with which the women's table tennis team battled Singapore in the final of the team event got me off my seat to applaud eventual champions India. Manika Batra led the way with her ruthless taming of three-time Olympic medallist Tianwei Feng and her energy seemingly flowed through the others to get India the gold. For a moment, there was a feeling of pure elation, followed by a sense of pride when I saw tears running down Batra's eyes on the podium. Table tennis turned out to be the unexpected story of the Games for me and besides the grand medal haul, it was the way the team went about every event that stuck in the heart: with passion and confidence. - Arjun Namboothiri

*****

The Indian women were up against Singapore, who had won gold at every event since table tennis was introduced at the Games in 2002. Manika was facing three-time Olympic medallist Tianwei Feng, yet she went the distance and pulled off an upset that paved the way for a bigger one, India stunning Singapore 3-1 for gold. As this was the first of Manika's four medals, it's hard to think this win didn't play a crucial role in Manika's other medals. Of course, there were other Indian medals that were hard-fought and won against quality opposition, but this was in a sport I find easiest to follow. I could appreciate the importance of the win all the more after reading about the techniques of gameplay and coaching that went into it. - Manoj Bhagavatula


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Hima Das didn't even know what the Commonwealth Games were two years ago. In Gold Coast, she was about to run the women's 400m final. As the cameraperson went to the competitors for their introductions on the big screen, 18-year-old Hima smiled, winked and posed for the roving eye of the steady camera, the mild streaks of gold in her hair standing out. This is how I hope the next generation of Indian athletes are -- confident, talented and unflappable on the biggest stage. - Debayan Sen


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I've seen and read about several exemplary moments in international shooting, and usually the difference between gold and silver is marginal. In 16-year-old Manu Bhaker's case, what impressed me the most was her dominance. Not only did she lead from the very beginning, but did so by a huge margin, hitting 10.3s, 10.4s and even the almost-perfect 10.9s like they were a piece of cake. She finished with a gold 6.9 points clear of silver medallist Heena Sidhu -- a rare sight. She had this endearing smile on her face much, much later, that glowed of an achievement worthy of making her a Tokyo favourite. - Debdatta Sengupta


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An Indian medal at the Commonwealth Games is not rare -- the country won 66 medals at Gold Coast after all -- but an individual gold by one of our field athletes comes only rarely even at this level. Hence, Neeraj Chopra's feat in the javelin throw stood out. It would have fetched him a podium finish at the Rio Olympics. Even his worst throw on Saturday was better than the best one from the Australian silver medallist. Not bad for a 20-year-old who has been without a coach for much of his career. Having delivered on his immense promise, Chopra has raised hopes of an Olympic medal two years from now. Time to check when an Indian field athlete last won a medal at the Olympics. - Gaurav Rai


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It embodied ambition, lung power, creativity, vision and the alluring intoxication of promise. Eventually, the goal by the Indian women's hockey team against South Africa that took them into the CWG2018 semi-final will be forgotten in history. A creation from the backwaters of India's half turned into a torrent of passes between Vandana Katariya and Navneet Kaur, and finished with Rani Rampal apparating ghost-like in front of goal. Rani stopped the clock, spun around and slotted the ball past scrambling, wrong-footed opponents. It gave to us the sight of what India's women can do when they operate -- to borrow from writer Lloyd Jones's description of the New Zealand All Blacks -- like 11 sets of eyes, hands and feet attached to a single nervous system. The women must recover from their medal-less No. 4 CWG finish, push to rediscover that the single self that created the goal and find a way to reach into it or tap into it. Again and again. - Sharda Ugra

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Rani Rampal's match-winning goal against South Africa created a lasting memory for me -- the beauty of it lying in the calmness and subtlety of it. It was that type of game -- a tough, physical battle involving lots of running around and scrambling about. The best sportspersons find order amid chaos. They see things in slow motion even as others around them see blurry shapes. They nutmeg world-class defenders, gracefully flick away 150kph balls, use delicate drop shots to counter monster serves. Rani's first touch and the turn to wrongfoot the defender, followed by a nonchalant finish past the charging 'keeper was a similar source of pleasure. It was huge in the context of the game as well, ensuring India's passage to the semis and avoiding a nervous final 12 minutes. - Saket Parekar