Who are the most successful Indian athletes in Commonwealth Games history?
India has participated in all but four editions (1930, 1950, 1962, 1986) of the Commonwealth Games. From the second edition in 1934, India won a total of 503 CWG medals, including 181 gold, 173 silver and 143 bronze. India ranks fourth in the total Commonwealth Games medals.
These quadrennial games have always proven to be that global stage where India shines. Many Indian athletes have made it to the Olympics and championships by proving their mettle in these games. .
Here we take a look at some of India’s most successful Commonwealth Games athletes.
Jaspal Rana is India’s most successful Commonwealth Games athlete. The pistol shooter won a total of 15 medals including 9 gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze in various shooting events during the 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006 editions of the Commonwealth Games. Rana notched four gold medals at the Manchester Games in 2002, along with her then-Commonwealth Games record of 574 points in standard pistol shooting at 25m. He received the Arjuna award at the age of 18.
After winning medals, securing championships and conquering Asian Games, he decided to take responsibility for preparing future Indian shooters. Currently, he is a coach in his own academy named Jaspal Rana Institute of Education & Technology, Uttarakhand. He is also an active member of the Indian National Congress party.
Shooting is the sport in which India has dominated over the years at the Commonwealth Games. Samaresh Jung is also one of the shooters responsible for these formed notions regarding India during the quadrennial games. Closely following Jaspal Rana, Jung won 14 medals in various shooting events at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games.
He won seven gold medals at the Melbourne Games in 2006. He also posted the then Commonwealth Games record of 685.4 points in 10m pistol shooting that same year and thus earned the nickname of India’s “Gold Finger”.
He was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2002. Jung was also part of the coaching staff of Indian shooters who represented India at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Another shooter on the list, decorated Gagan Narang won a total of 10 medals at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games. Initially, his CWG count had only gold medals. The 50m air rifle specialist won four gold medals each in various shooting events at the 2006 and 2010 versions of the Commonwealth Games.
Gagan Narang founded ‘Guns for Glory’, the Khelo India accredited institution for training shooters across India. This academy is structured from the money of all the awards he received for his Commonwealth Games and other performances. Gagan and his team launched Project Leap through this academy. The trainees of this project also pocketed 49 international junior medals and 42 national medals. He also believes that this academy helped him win the bronze medal at the London Olympics in 2012.
The sniper was awarded India’s highest sporting honor named – Khel Ratna in 2010.
In the country where cricket has all the glory, this 10m air rifle shooter gave India their first-ever individual gold medal in shooting at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Abhinav Bindra is responsible for India’s rise as a powerhouse in filming. He has 9 CWG medals including one gold each in each edition from 2022 to 2014.
Abhinav Bindra, from an early age, devoted himself to filming. He participated in CWG 1998 at the very young age of 15. He is the best example of the hard work and dedication required for this sport and to serve as an example to young shooters. He started the “Abhinav Bindra Shooting Development Program” in 2014 where he trains them and gives ideas to young shooters.
He received Arjuna Awards and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Awards in 2000 and 2002 for his sincere efforts in the sport of shooting.
Sharath Kamal Ashanta
The only non-shooter on this list, Sharath Kamath Achanta has already achieved legendary status in the sport of Indian table tennis. He has 9 CWG medals in his bag, including four gold, two silver and three bronze. He is also part of the Indian table tennis team selected for the upcoming Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022.
The 10-time national champion has not only put Indian table tennis on the world map, but has consistently led the nation on several international stages. He is India’s most active paddler for two decades as he represented India four times in table tennis at the 2004, 2008, 2016 and 2022 editions of the Olympics.
Of the Indians with the most CWG medals, Sharath Kamal is the only active player who, and India, desperately wants him to continue his medal chase in Birmingham.