Athletes’ Commonwealth Games qualification shattered by shabby New Delhi marathon
Poor organisation has shattered the dreams of elite athletes taking part in the IDBI Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon who had hoped to achieve the 2018 Commonwealth Games qualifying time of two hours, 12 minutes and 50 seconds.
Lack of proper marking on the route of the 42 km race held in central Delhi on Sunday morning, robbed Army’s international runner T Gopi of a ticket to Gold Coast, Australia. Despite winning the race with a personal best time of 2:15.16, Gopi looked disappointed. “I had enough energy to run couple of more miles. Since there wasn’t much marking on the route, I was a bit confused whether to increase the pace or slow down,” he said.
Gopi said that he began on a right pace to clock 2:13 but then slowed down at the halfway mark. He picked up the pace in the last 10 km but wasn’t able to recover the lost ground. “It was the last chance for me to make the grade, but I missed,” he added.
The only consolation for Gopi -- he defended his title with a personal best time, breaking his previous best of 2:15.25 he clocked at the 2016 Rio Olympics where he finished 25th.
Athletics Federation of India’s (AFI) technically qualified officials were overseeing the event. AFI secretary general CK Valson was unavailable for a comment.
Race director Nagaraj Adiga denied that there was no mismanagement. “No one complained to us. We had provided personalised support at aid stations and pacers for athletes,” he said.
Another issue that hampered the progress of the athletes during the race was the start time – the race was flagged off by cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar, at 4.30 am.
“It added to the problem as the route wasn’t lit properly. We could hardly see the route. After a few miles I was about to tumble down. The race should have started at the break of dawn,” said Nitender Singh Rawat, who finished second in 2:24.55.
To add to the issues, vehicles were intermittently crossing the race route at Rajpath. When there was distance between the runners, the traffic police would let vehicles pass to ease off the traffic in one most of the most arterial routes of the city. Police were also seen halting some marathoners to allow the movement of traffic.
Top women runners failed to impress too. Monika Athare defended the title but was far from the Gold Coast qualifying time of 2:30. She won in 2:43.46, failing to go past her personal best of 2:39. Jyoti Gawate finished second in 2:50.10 while Monika Raut was third in 2:55.02. Besides the full 42 km race, half-marathon and 10 km events were also organised.