With judo coming back into the Commonwealth Games fold after 12 years, Indian judokas looked a confident lot as they begin their campaign here on Thursday, aiming to produce the best-ever performance by the country in the quadrennial event.
This is the third time that judo has been in Commonwealth Games after 1990 in Auckland and 2002 in Manchester and India had won two medals each in both the editions.
The current India team, comprising seven men and seven women, expressed confidence of winning four to five medals this time.
Women's coach Virender Singh said that the 14-member Indian team had a good preparation ahead of the Games with a training-cum-exposure tour to Tashkent and then Hungary for more than 20 days in May-June.
He said India should win four to five medals.
"We had a very good training-cum-exposure trip to Tashkent which was for 15 days. Then the team was sent to Hungary to take part in a Grand Prix event. The exposure will be very useful for the players and overall we hope to win four to five medals," Virender, himself a Commonwealth Games medal winner, told PTI.
"In 1990 India won two bronze and then a silver and a bronze in Manchester. Now, we are aiming for at least four medals. If that happens, that will be the best-ever performance in Commonwealth Games by India," men's coach Rameshwar Dutt Mudgil said.
"Out of the five judokas who will fight on Thursday, we are expecting to win three medals," he added.
Indian judokas begin their campaign on Thursday with competition in five categories -- 48kg, 52kg and 57kg in women's section and 60kg and 66kg in the men's section. The medal rounds of all the weight classes will also be held on Thursday. They will first fight in preliminary rounds before the semifinals and the medal rounds.
Two bronze medals will be awarded and the two semifinal losers will have to go through a repechage round against the judokas who had lost in the quarterfinals.
Among women, Sushila Likmabam will fight in 48kg, Kalpana Thoudam in 52kg and Shivani in 57kg. The men's Indian competitors on Thursday are Navjot Chana (60kg) and Manjeet Nandal (66kg).
Kalpana, according to her coach Virender, is also a safe bet for a medal.
"Kalpana won a gold in 2010 Commonwealth Championships and then another bronze in the World Cup. She also won a bronze in a Grand Prix event in 2013," Virender said.
Navjot, who won a gold in 2010 Commonwealth Championships, is a strong contender for a medal.
"Our preparation was very good and the foreign trip has given us confidence. I am ready and I won't be satisfied with anything less than a gold," said Navjot from Punjab.
Other Indians who are taking part in the event are Avtar Singh (men's 90kg), Parikshit Singh (+100kg), Sahil Pathania (men's 100kg), Balvinder Singh (men's 73kg), Vikender Singh (men's 81kg), Jina Chongtham (women's 78kg), Garima Choudhary (women's 63kg), Sunibala Huidrom (women's 70kg) and Rajwinder Kaur (+78kg).