Bengaluru, July 16: The stage is set in Birmingham for the upcoming edition of the prestigious Commonwealth Games. On Saturday, ahead of the Games, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) named a 322-strong contigent set to take part in the Birmingham event.
The Indian contingent includes 215 athletes, along with 107 officials and support staff. The Birmingham Games is set to be held from July 28th to August 8th.
India, who finished third in the previous edition, will look to better their show in the upcoming edition. In the previous edition held in 2018 in Gold Coast, India secured a third place finish behind Australia and England.
Naming a strong squad, IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta said India is sending one of the strongest squads to the CWG ever. "We are sending one of our strongest squads ever to the CWG and even with a strength sport for us like shooting not being there, we are confident of bettering our performance from the last edition.
"Make no mistake, the competition will be world class and fierce but our athletes have prepared well and are fit and raring to go. We wish them all the very best," PTI quoted Mehta.
The Indian athletes headed to Birmingham and officials will be staying at five different 'Villages' with the women's cricket team being put up in a separate facility. The women's cricket team is set to be kep in a facility in the Birmingham city centre.
An IOA press release further stated that the apex sports body's top office-bearer thanked the government for its support to the athletes and federations. Mehta said, "It needs to be said that the Government of India led by the Hon. Prime Minister have provided unprecedented support to Olympic sports in recent years and our best ever performance at the Olympic Games stand testimony to that.
"We remain ever grateful for the same and are sure our athletes will ensure that rich rewards are reaped for the untiring efforts put in by them, most of all the Union Sports Ministry and the Sports Authority of India."
The 322-strong Indian contingent is a star-studded squad. Some prominent names in the squad include Olympic medallists Neeraj Chopra, PV Sindhu, Mirabai Chanu, Lovlina Borgohain, Bajrang Punia and Ravi Kumar Dahiya. Defending CWG champions Manika Batra, Vinesh Phogat as well as 2018 Asian Games gold medallists Tajinderpal Singh Toor, Hima Das and Amit Panghal are also part of the contingent.
Rajesh Bhandari, vice president of Boxing Federation of India (BFI), is the Chef de Mission of the squad.
Team India will compete in 15 sporting disciplines as well as four disciplines in the para sports category. Some of the disciplines where India look to perform well include traditionally strong sports like boxing, badminton, hockey, weightlifting, women's cricket (making its debut at the CWG) and wrestling.
The Indian squads in athletics, cycling, swimming and table tennis are also strong and primed up for the challenge. Various members of the squad have already reached Birmingham over the past few days, depending on their training regimes laid out by their respective coaches.
Some members are competing at various global tournaments and would reach the venue directly while the rest of the contingent will leave from New Delhi. The CWG village will officially open its doors to contingents on July 23.
(With inputs from PTI)