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Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019

Suresh Kumar Patel chases dream on Delhi streets

The cash award, says Patel, will help him train in Kenya for 3-4 months and prepare him for the 2020 season. “I have a dream of clinching an Olympic berth in 10,000m track event.

other-sports Updated: Oct 19, 2019 23:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
         

Fresh from winning the 10,000m track gold at the Open National Championships in Ranchi last week, Suresh Kumar Patel has his sights set on the R3.50 lakh jackpot, the prize for the winner of the Indian category of the Delhi Half Marathon (21km) on Sunday.

The cash award, says Patel, will help him train in Kenya for 3-4 months and prepare him for the 2020 season. “I have a dream of clinching an Olympic berth in 10,000m track event. A good pre-season training in the Rift Valley of East Africa will help me improve my performance,” he said on the eve of the race.

Seeing the runners from the Rift Valley of Kenya and Ethiopia excel in distance running, the trend among Indian long-distance runners is to train in East Africa. Murali Kumar Gavit from Gujarat has been training regularly in Iten (Kenya). Though he won bronze with a time of 28:38.34 sec, a personal best, at the Asian Championships in April in Doha, he fell short of the World Championships qualifying time of 27:40.

Patel too has been to Kenya before. He spent six weeks at the end of the 2017 season and says it helped him. “It boosts your confidence,” he said.

Patel’s winning time of 29:25 at Ranchi is nearly two minutes slower than the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualification time of 27:28.00. His personal best of 28:57 was clocked five years ago, at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games where he finished fifth in the 25-lap race.

But Patel is determined. “I want to give it a try and there is no harm in dreaming big,” he added.

The 28 year-old from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh is focused on running hard and fast on Sunday. “The winner’s cheque will be the first step towards my goal,” he said.

Athletes on the fringes too will get a chance to make a mark — and some money. The top-10 finishers in men’s and women’s sections will be entitled to equal prize money. The winner in the Indian category will also be entitled to a bonus of R50,000 if he clocks below 1:04.00 sec. The amount increase to R75,000 if the time is below 1:03.50 sec and R one lakh for a time of 1:03.40 sec.

In the women’s section, the winner could win a bonus of R50,000 by winning in a time of 1:11.30 sec. The bonus will go up if the time improves to 1:11.00 sec (R75,000) or 1:10.30 sec (R one lakh).

The prize money in the elite category is $27,000 (R19 lakh approx), while the event record jackpot is $10,000 (R7 lakh approx).