One Grand party
Every Indian in the country and abroad can proudly declare that the 2010 Commonwealth Games was a big success, even if there were minor glitches along the way. Our Correspondent Harish Kotian reviews the hits and the misses.
Perhaps Sports Minister M S Gill was right when he compared the tardy build-up to the Commonwealth Games with a typical Indian monsoon wedding.
And, as is the case with all Indian wedding receptions, in the end everything fell into place. The quadrennial extravaganza that Delhi hosted turned out to be one grand party.
Nothing was right in the build-up to the 2010 Games -- corruption, delay in getting the venues ready and hygiene problems at the athletes Village making headlines. But once they got off with a spectacular opening ceremony there was no looking back.
Every Indian in the country and abroad can proudly declare that the 2010 Commonwealth Games were a big success, even if there were minor glitches along the way.
The athletes, officials and even foreign journalists left happy and smiling, all taking home wonderful memories from the resolve of a nation that never gave up.
Image: Aerostat displays India's flag during the closing ceremony
India came up with its best ever haul
There were a minor problems along the way -- like contamination water in the swimming pool at the aquatic centre, journalists finding it tough to get information on the various events, the ticket scam that denied many Delhi fans a chance to watch the Games and a few case of doping but, overall, the Games exceeded all expectations.
Thus, it wasn't surprising when Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell declared the Games a huge success.
On the field too, India triumphed. The largest ever medals haul by its athletes was the perfect icing on the cake. With 101 medals, including 38 gold, India came up with their best ever haul in Commonwealth Games and also took second place in the roll of honour, ahead of England.
Image: Abhinav Bindra with the Indian flag
Their previous best medals tally was at the Manchester Games -- 69 medals in sum, and 30 gold.
So how did it come about?
The shooters lived up to expectations, while the wrestlers, both men and women, showed established themselves with heartening performances.
Gagan Narang was easily India's best athlete with a haul of four gold medals, despite failing in his last two events.
Vijay Kumar and Omkar Singh also won three gold medals each as India's shooters took home 14 of the 34 gold medals, for a tally of 30 medals overall, to finish as the top nation in shooting.
Image: Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang after winning gold medal
Wrestling won India 10 gold
India were the dominant force in wrestling as they won a record 10 gold medals from the event, including three by the women.
But there were disappointments too, mainly in tennis and boxing. Much was expected from Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza, but all came up short, failing to win a single gold medal.
Young Somdev Devvarman came up with the sole gold medal from a depleted field in the tennis event following pull-outs due to injuries and security concerns.
Image: Wrestler Geeta with the gold medal
Boxers packed the punch
In boxing, Indians suffered because of some 'unfair' decisions by the referees.
World No 1 Vijender Singh, Jai Bhagwan Singh, Dilbagh Singh and Akhil Kumar were done in by some poor and biased decisions by the referees that saw settle for the bronze.
But Paramjeet Samota, Suranjoy Mayengbam and Manoj Kumar brought cheer in the Indian boxing camp, winning gold medals on the final day of the event.
Image: Manoj Kumar celebrates after winning gold medal
Saina's gold was the best moments of the Games
The best moment of the Games though was Saina Nehwal's comeback victory in the final of the women's singles in badminton.
The Hyderabadi ace on the brink of defeat, having lost the first set and facing match-point in the final against Malaysia's Mew Choo Wong. But, backed by a vociferous crowd, she staged a strong comeback to win the women's singles gold.
That medal helped India shunt England to third place in the medals tally and end the Games on a high.
Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa had earlier won the women's doubles gold.
Image: Saina Nehwal reacts after winning a point
Lifters fail to impress
India also showed their prowess in archery, bagging both individual gold medals and women's team event (Deepika Kumari and Rahul Banerjee), and the men's team silver in the Recurve category.
In the weightlifting, too, India fell short of expectations, wining just eight medals, including two gold (Renu Bala Chanu in the women's 58kg and Ravi Kumar Katulu in the men's 69kg), one less than their haul at the 2006 Games in Melbourne.
Image: Chanu won India the gold medal
Athletes make a mark
But Indian athletes shocked everyone as they notched 12 medals, including two gold.
Krishna Poonia created history by breaking India's 52-year-old gold medal jinx in athletics at the Commonwealth Games by winning the women's discus throw as the hosts swept all the three medals at stake, Harwant Kaur and Seema Antil taking silver and bronze respectively.
In the process, Poonia became the first Indian woman to bag a Commonwealth Games gold medal after Milkha Singh won the men's 440 yards race in 1958 edition in Cardiff.
Track and filed saw India came up with another shocker when the women's 4x400m relay team of Manjeet Kaur, Sini Jose, Ashwini Akkunji and Mandeep Kaur won the gold medal.
Vikas Shive Gowda (men's discus throw and Prajusha Maliakkal (women's long jump) were the other silver medal winners.
Harminder Singh gave the country a surprise bronze in the men's 20km walk. The other bronze winners were Kavita Raut (women's 10,000m), Seema Antil (women's discus throw), Kashinath Naik (men's javelin throw), Renjith Maheswary (men's triple jump), the women's 4x100m and men's 4x100m relay teams.
However, the track and field success got tainted when Rani Yadav, who participated in the 20-km walk, failed a dope test.
Against all expectations, 19-year-old Ashish Kumar made history by winning the bronze medal the gymnastics individual apparatus men's artistic competition.
India had never won a medal in the event, but Ashish broke that jinx when he scored 14.475 on the floor to finish third behind Australia's Thomas Pichler (14.675) and England's Reiss Beckford (14.625).
Kumar then made it a double when he clinched the silver in the men's individual vault in gymnastics.
Image: India's Krishna Poonia, Harwant Kaur and Seema Antil celebrate after winning medals
Australia rout India to win hockey gold
The Indian men's hockey team won the silver medal, but it was big disappointment on the last day when it was humiliated 8-0 by Australia in the final.
The mega-event did not end in quite the same style it began. The closing ceremony was boring in parts and dragged on a bit, but, after an enthralling show over 12 days it hardly mattered. It was time to sit back, relax and applaud.
India's gold medal winners at the Games
Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang - men's 10m Air Rifle Pairs
Rani Sarnobat and Anisa Sayyed - women's 25m Pistol Pairs
Gagan Narang - men's 10m Air Rifle
Anisa Sayyed - women's 25m Pistol
Omkar Singh - men's 50m Pistol
Omkar Singh and Gurpreet Singh - men's 10m Air Pistol Pairs
Gurpreet Singh and Vijay Kumar - men's 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Pairs
Gagan Narang and Imran Hassan Khan - men's 50m Rifle 3 Positions Pairs
Omkar Singh - men's 10m Air Pistol
Vijay Kumar - men's 25m Rapid Fire Pistol
Harpreet Singh - men's 25m Centrefire Pistol
Vijay Kumar and Harpreet Singh - men's 25m Centrefire Pistol Pairs
Gagan Narang - men's 50m Rifle 3 Positions
Heena Sindhu and Anuraj Singh - women's pairs 10m air pistol
Ravinder Singh Men's 60kg - Repechage Greco-Roman
Sanjay Kumar Men's 74kg - Repechage Greco-Roman
Anil Kumar - men's 96kg - Repechage Greco-Roman
Rajender Kumar - men's 55kg Repechage Greco-Roman
Geeta Rani - women's 55kg Repechage Freestyle
Alka Tomar - women's 59kg - Repechage Freestyle
Anita Kumari - women's 67kg - Repechage Freestyle
Yogeshwar Dutt - men's 60kg - Repechage Freestyle
Narsingh Panch Yadav - men's 74kg - Repechage Freestyle
Sushil Kumar - men's 66kg - Repechage Freestyle
Renu Bala Chanu Yumnam - women's 58kg
Ravi Kumar Katulu - men's 69kg
Dola Banerjee, Deepika Kumar and Bombayala Laishram - women's Recurve Team
Deepika Kumari - women's Recurve Individual
Rahul Banerjee - men's Recurve - Individual
Somdev Devvarman - men's singles
TRACK & FIELD
Krishna Poonia - women's discus throw
Manjeet Kaur, Sini Jose, Ashwini Chidananda Akkunji and Mandeep Kaur - women's 4x400m relay.
Suranjoy Mayengbam - 52 kg Flyweight
Manoj Kumar - 64kg Light-welter
Paramjeet Samota - +91kg Super Heavyweight
Sharath Kamal and Subhajit Saha - men's doubles
Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta - women's doubles
Saina Nehwal - women's singles
Image: Australia's Trent Mitton (12) hits a goal against India during their men's field hockey final match