The euphoric finish with its biggest ever haul in the Commonwealth Games and to top it the second position in the medals tally is certain to ring in a change of tone for Olympic disciplines in the country.

India ended the Games with a flourish, with Saina Nehwal taking the badminton singles title to carry the country ahead of England in the gold medal count (38 to 37) in perhaps the most pulsating finish to gain the number two standing.

It would have been better had the host matched England's overall tally which stood at 142 medals as against India's 101. Last time, India had come fourth with 22 gold medals in a total of 50 while in 2002 the count was 69 with a gold tally of 30.

Australia far ahead

Australia expectedly finished at the top of the board with 74 gold, 55 silver and 48 bronze medals for a total of 177.

At home India was always expected to do exceptionally well utilising several favourable factors including climatic conditions. Yet, in the final analysis after the fight for all the gold medals had ended, there should be a tinge of sadness in the Indian contingent that it had to return empty-handed from cycling, lawn bowls, netball, rugby 7s, squash and aquatics.

The biggest surprise in Delhi 2010 came from the track and field events at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.

India ended its gold medal drought in athletics since 1958 through woman discus thrower Krishna Poonia and then brought home an additional bonus in the form of the women's 1600m relay team of Manjeet Kaur, Sini Jose, A.C. Ashwini and Mandeep Kaur.

A definite silver lining could be seen in Vikas Gowda's and M.A. Prajusha's second place finishes in the men's discus and women's long jump and the first-ever track medal by an Indian woman athlete, Kavita Raut in the 10,000m. The country also celebrated the returns of Harminder Singh (20km walk), Renjith Maheswary (triple jump), Kashinath Naik (javelin) and the sprint relay quartets.

On the negative side, Rani Yadav was one of the three athletes caught for doping, which needless to say took some of the gleam away from the overall achievement.

That doping remains a menace to Indian athletics can only be the understatement of the year.

Shooters' contribution

Shooting provided the bulk of the medals. Rifle ace Gagan Narang was the hero as he won his four golds with record scores, including a performance in air rifle that was better than the world record. It helped him outshine Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra.

The pistol shooters contributed 10 of the 14 gold medals, as the Indians wound up with 30 medals. The shotgun marksmen were beaten by a world class field in trap and double trap.

After winning 16 golds in Melbourne, the performance dipped to 14, the same as Manchester, but there should be no doubt about the quality of our shooters.

Weightlifting proved to be a disappointment as India could gain only two golds and an equal number of silver and four bronze medals as against three gold, five silver and one bronze earned in Melbourne. More was expected from the lifters, but only K. Ravi Kumar and Renu Bala Chanu lived up to expectations.

Gymnastics gave reason for a lot to cheer as Ashish Kumar brought the first ever silver and bronze for India even as archers Rahul Banerjee and Deepika Kumari led the country to some golden moments.

Wrestlers under the leadership of World champion Sushil Kumar offered a glitzy show, fetching 19 medals, the performances from the Greco-Roman wrestlers and freestyle woman wrestlers being equally good as that of the male freestyle wrestlers.

Tennis saw young Somdev Devvarman rise to prove his credentials though the expected clean-sweep never occurred as Sania Mirza fell at her final hurdle while Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi failed to make progress beyond the semifinals.

The unexpected too occurred in the boxing ring, where Vijendra Singh was forced to bite the dust at the semifinal stage.

However, some pride was salvaged as Suranjoy Singh, Manoj Kumar and Paramjit Samota came through with flying colours.

The disappointment in tennis continued into the table tennis arena as well with only the pair of Sharath Kamal and Subhajit Saha striking it rich in the men's doubles.

Apart from Nehwal's pulsating victory in the singles final, G. Jwala and Ashwini Ponappa took the women's doubles gold in badminton.

Amid all these moments was the humiliation suffered by the Indian team against Australia in hockey, though the silver medal was a first for the country in that sport in the Commonwealth Games.

Bungling in projecting an exact goal-average had earlier spoiled the chances of the women's side, leaving the home team with many a lesson to learn.

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