With families on their minds, Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa and Kenya’s Lucy Kabuu raced to victory in the men’s and women’s sections respectively in the Delhi half-marathon on Sunday.
Desisa’s big family, in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, are largely dependant on him for financial assistance.
The runner is generous enough to give a substantial amount of his earnings from the lucrative road-race circuit in Europe and America, to his elders so that they live a comfortable life.
His generosity, however, is limited to his life off the track. While running, he shows no mercy. This was evident when he didn’t give an inch to Kenyan rival Geoffrey Kipsang in the final 200m of the 21km race - Desisa sprinted to victory to earn a big pay cheque. Kipsang lost a close tactical battle to Desisa, but his counterpart Lucy was smart enough to keep at bay the Ethiopian challenge of Aselefench Mergia and Belaynesh Oljira, both known for their strong ‘kick’.
At the 17km mark, Lucy, who was in a group which also included one other Kenyan and two Ethiopians, began her long drive home. It sapped the energy of the Ethiopians who trailed home behind her.
Jubilant after the win, she said: “This win is for my daughter.”
Winner in the Indian category, Suresh Kumar, says the win will help him prepare for achieving the qualification mark for next year’s London Olympics.
The top Indian female runner, Lalita Babbar, is also nursing Olympic aspirations.