Indian medal aspirants look to Europe for training
New Delhi: Europe has emerged as favourite destination for the Indian athletes preparing for the Commonwealth Games, to be held here in October this year.
With less than 100 days to go for the Games, the hockey team is already off to a month-long tour of Europe starting at Germany and wrestlers are also set to leave for Belarus for training.
The pugilists are preparing to leave for the Central Asian country of Tajikistan.
Being the host nation, Indian athletes are keen to come out all guns blazing and win as many medals as possible and are relying on training-cum-competition tours abroad to sharpen their skills.
India managed 49 medals to finish fourth in Melbourne Games in 2006 but was way behind the top three – Australia (221), England (110) and Canada (86).
Hockey skipper Rajpal Singh says they want to do well in front of the home crowd and is quite optimistic of their chances.
"We will definitely have chance, especially because of the local support. We are going to Europe for the extensive training for one month," Rajpal told PTI before leaving for Germany.
Coach Jose Brasa had also said that playing against strong European teams would be the best preparation.
Olympic bronze medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar said the intensity of the preparation is going to be up everyday.
"Our practice is going very good and we will soon go to Belarus for better preparations," Sushil told PTI.
"Good preparations and multiple weight categories will allow us to bag maximum medals and the inclusion of Greco Roman wrestling style is an extra advantage," Freestyle wrestling national coach Jagminder Singh said.
National Boxing coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu says boxers of England and Ireland would be a hurdle in his wards` way.
"We are going to Tajikistan. After that a training session will be held in New Delhi from July 10-16. Our major opponents are England and Ireland."
Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh and Melbourne Games gold medal winner Akhil Kumar say they will leave no stone unturned to bring laurels for the country.
"I will play in middleweight category (75kg). I know England and Australia can give us tough competition but I am working very hard to get good results for the country," said Vijender.
Akhil said, "Along with UK and Australia, Ghana and Uganda boxers can be major challenges. I am training at NIS in Patiala. I am hoping to do well since this time I will play in different category (bantamweight)."
The kind of form Saina Nehwal is in, national badminton coach Pulella Gopichand has no doubt that the Hyderabadi will win it big for India at the Games.
"After notching up hat-trick of international titles, Saina will be a huge plus for the side. Along with her, Chetan Anand, Rupesh Kumar Sanave and P Kashyap are good contenders for medals," Gopichand said.
Senior vice-president of National Rifle Association of India Avatar Singh Sethi said," Our shooters will be on the top of the chart as we have shooters like Gagan Narang, Manavjit Singh Sandhu. And three participants from Indian Army also have cleared trials for CWG.”
India topped the shooting charts at Melbourne with a whopping 27 medals, 16 of them gold.