Lalita Babar defended her title on Sunday, while Vijaymala Patil and Rohini Raut clinched the second and third spot in the Indian women's section at the Mumbai Marathon.
Though it seemed to be a breeze for the trio, they struggled to match pace of their foreign counterparts. Lalita failed to shave off time of her previous mark, but yet won the race comfortably. In fact, the time difference between the first and third spot was 10 minutes, which clearly depicts the gap in competition.
"As far as women athletes are concerned, we are still a long way to go. The main reason is lack of proper training for marathon running and the pool of women runners is also limited," said former Asian champion Sunita Godara, a coordinator for Indian athletes.
In 1992, Sunita ran a marathon in two hours and 43 minutes and 20 years no Indian woman has come near that mark. However, the men have shown improvement over the years.
"The increase in number of marathons and hike in prize money is motivating Indian athletes to run marathons. But our athletes have to produce good results too. In men we are getting cut-throat competition, but in women's the competition is not that encouraging. But with proper training, I am sure these girls are capable of breaking the 2:40 barrier," Sunita added.
However, Patil and Raut can take solace from the fact that this was their first marathon and they can only improve from here. However, amidst the jubilant mood, the trio had a common grief: Lack of sponsors of supporting them.
To that to happen, they will have to put up an improved show next time.