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Commonwealth Games 2018: New Delhi marathon last chance for runners to qualify

The New Delhi marathon will be run in ideal temperature for athletes to come under the qualifying mark for the April Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

other sports Updated: Feb 23, 2018 18:45 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Commonwealth Games 2018,Gold Coast,New Delhi marathon
The New Delhi marathon will be last chance for men and women to qualify for the CWG, which starts on April 4. The qualifying time time of 2:12.50 for men and 2:30.14 for women will need the athletes to set their personal bests. (Image for representational purposes)(HT PHoto)

When India’s top distance runners line up on the starting line for the national marathon championship in New Delhi on Sunday, achieving the qualifying mark for the April Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia will be uppermost on their minds.

The IDBI-Federal Life insurance marathon will be last chance for men and women to qualify for the CWG, which starts on April 4. The qualifying time time of 2:12.50 for men and 2:30.14 for women will need the athletes to set their personal bests.

However, the cool morning temperature should help the runners post faster times. The marathon starts at 5 am, when the temperature is forecast to be around 15 Degrees Celsius. It is expected to remain under 20 Degrees Celsius even at 7.30 am, when the elite men would have finished and the top women would be completing their race.

Army’s T Gopi and Nitender Singh Rawat will be chasing qualification. At the Mumbai marathon in January, they jostled for the top spot in the Indian category but could not achieve CWG qualification. Gopi’s clocked 2:16.51 and Rawat was second, three seconds behind, after the Mumbai humidity took its toll on them.

Among women, focus will be on Monika Athare, who clocked her personal best (2:39.08) in Delhi last year.

National coach Surender Singh, who is supervising the training, is not predicting a target time. “The race is challenging and anything can happen,” he said.

COURSE, WEATHER IDEAL

The personal best of Rawat, who is from Uttarakhand, is 2:15.18, which he clocked in 2016 at Mumbai. In the 2016 Rio Olympics, he suffered a hamstring injury and returned to competition only in the later stages of 2017.

Gopi, who switched from track to marathon two years ago, clocked a career best 2:15.25 at Rio. He has been the most consistent among Indian runners. In November, he won the Asian title at 2:15.51, after clocking 2:17.13 at the London World Championships in August. “The flat course and low temperature will help runners clock a good time,” said race organizer, Nagaraj Adiga.

In the past, India’s appearance in the CWG marathon used to be sporadic. After a gap of four decades, Ram Singh Yadav and Bining Lyngkhoi got to compete in the Delhi 2010 CWG. Yadav was eighth (2:21.14) and Lyngkhoi ninth (2:23.61). The late Shivnath Singh ran in the 1978 Edmonton CWG, but didn’t finish.

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) didn’t enter anyone in marathon at the 2014 Glasgow CWG. “The standard is very high. With limited quota for CWG, we have to send the best,” said AFI president Adille Sumariwalla. The quota this time is 37 athletes.

The AFI announced the CWG qualification marks in September. The main idea, said Sumariwalla, was to prepare the athletes. “The competition is very tough and we don’t want to send competitors for token participation,” he said.

First Published: Feb 23, 2018 18:29 IST