The top three finishers among the Indian men, led by Sandeep Kumar, will be back to defend their titles in the Sunfeast World 10K Bangalore, which will be flagged off from the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, here, on Sunday. This was disclosed by Asian Marathon champion, Sunita Godara, the coordinator of the Indian elite athletes, at the media center on Friday. While Sandeep Kumar had clocked 30.02, Kashinath Aswale clocked 30.08 to finish second and Santosh Kumar 30.13 for third.
A total of 77 Indian Elite athletes, among them 15 women, will be featuring in this world’s most prestigious 10k run that offers a separate prize fund of Rs 14 lakh only for Indian athletes. Giving further details, Godara said that there will be 50 athletes coming from the Army, all of them holding track records of below 32 mins in the 10K run. Incidentally, the cut off timing for Indian elite athletes has been pegged as 36 minutes and below for men and 40.50 minutes and below for women.
The men’s defending champions will have to contend with current Federation Cup champion Sunil Kumar, who clocked 29.33 while winning and is the fastest Indian in the fray. The second fastest Indian will be M D Yunus of the Services, who clocked 29.37 while finishing third in the Federation Cup. Sunil Kumar said he has been training hard and would try his best to finish as close to his best on track. He felt that running with some of the best athletes in the world would spur him to give his best.
The other top Indian men in the lineup are Nandraj Singh, Ajay Kumar, Soji Mathew, Arvind Kumar Yadav, Irappa Akki, Angad Kumar, Dharmender Singh and B C Tilak, to name a few.
Some of the Indian elite women who have confirmed participation are Preethi L Rao, last year’s third placed finisher, Sukanya Mall, India’s best current marathon runner, Anuradha Singh, Kamlesh Baghel, Anuja Bijagare and Vijaymala Patil.
The occasion also saw former marathon champion Sunita Godara and one of India’s most accomplished female athletes Reeth Abraham come out strongly for the Indian athletes who have confirmed to run here.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for our Indian athletes to not only compete against the best in the world but to also earn some decent prize money. The decision of the AFI to try and ban our athletes is nothing short of ridiculous as the Commonwealth Games are nearly 5 months away.”
Sunita said, “The mindset of the AFI was the same 20 years ago when I was competing and nothing has changed. This event should have been used by the AFI to give our athletes much needed exposure, instead they are trying to stop our athletes from participating.”