Indian duo of Thanackal Gopi and Kheta Ram put up an inspired show and clock their personal best timings to finish 25th and 26th in the men’s marathon at the Rio Olympics on Sunday.
Gopi registered his personal best timing of 2:15:25s, while Ram was just a second behind, clocking 2:15:26s.
However, it was disappoint for India’s more accomplished marathon runner Nitendra Singh Rawat as he finished 84th by clocking 2:22:52s, way below his personal best timing of 2:15:18s registered at the South Asian Games in Guwahati earlier this year.
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge won the gold with a dominating performance, running alone into the Sambadrome and finishing in two hours, eight minutes and 44 seconds on Sunday. Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa claimed the silver medal and American Galen Rupp took the bronze in humid conditions on a rain-slicked course.
Kipchoge, 31, began to split the field after around 30 kilometres, starting with a group of a dozen runners about him that slowly dropped away until he ran the final kilometers alone. “It was a championship and it was a bit slow so I decided to take over. Maybe it was the rain, maybe not. Everyone wants a medal. I was coming here for gold,” said Kipchoge, who has won seven of the eight marathons he has entered, including two London Marathon victories.
In previous Olympic appearances, in 2004 and 2008, he had competed in the 5,000 metres before shifting his focus to the longer distance. Rupp, 30, also made the transition from a short event but did so at the same Games, having finished fifth in the men’s 10,000 metres eight days ago.
“I was emotionally drained after the 10K, but I got it out of the system and decided to have an attacking race,” Rupp said. “Maybe this is my best event.”
For India on the concluding day, the Army trio were the last in the fray after London 2012 Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt made a first round exit in wrestling. India, thus, concluded their campaign with a just two medals -- PV Sindhu’s silver in women’s badminton singles and Sakshi Malik’s bronze in female wrestling.
28-year-old Kerala lad Gopi, who had largely remained under the shadows of Rawat and Kheta Ram, ran the race of his career when he improved from being 70 at 10km mark to 55th at halfway before finishing with his personal best timing.
Introduced to the arduous 42.195km format in Mumbai Marathon earlier this year where he was brought in to set the pace for Rawat, Gopi had finished behind his Army colleague with a personal best of 2:15:15s, second among Indians and 11th overall.
Gopi along with his colleague Kheta Ram brilliantly set the pace as the 29-year-old finished just a second behind to grab the 26th place which also was better than his previous best of 2:17:23s registered in Mumbai Marathon.
29-year-old Rawat, however, struggled along the way as he could not cope up with the pace and he kept on slipping from 77th spot at 5km mark to 82nd at 40km before crossing the finish line at the the 84th position. Rawat was the first to bag the Rio quota in 2015 in his first competitive marathon in World Military Games in Korea where he clocked 2:18:06s, which was then an all time ninth best timing by an Indian.
he Uttarkahand lad improved his timing to 2:15.48s in Mumbai Marathon this year and clocked his personal best of 2:15:18s at the South Asian Games in Guwahati earlier this year.
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge clinched the gold with a timing of 2:08:44s while the silver and bronze went to Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa (2:09:54s) and United States’ Galen Rupp (2:10:05s) who also clocked his personal best time while running on rain-drenched roads.