Kolkata: World champion Kenenisa Bekele added one more feather to his crown as he won the Elite 25K marathon in his very first appearance at the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K marathon held in the city on Sunday.
The Ethiopian times his race to perfection as he was there in the scheme of things till the 21st km but gathered pace at the end, emerging victorious at the end.
He said, “The race was very nice. The course is nice and flat all through. I have been training hard and the results showed. This was my first 25 K and it feels good to have won it. It was a tactical race and I paced myself depending on the kind of competition I faced.”
“The weather was good, though a little smokey in certain parts. But it was not difficult to manage. I had a great race and would like to come back here next year. Kolkata has been very warm and hospitable and I would like to laud Procam for organizing such a well managed race,” he added further.
But he felt that a pacemaker would have helped him push down his time.
“In a race like this you need a pacemaker, who sets you up for a fast finish. I was pushing myself, but that was not enough. I would have pushed my timing by 90 seconds at least had I a pacemaker.”
A regular cold Sunday morning in Kolkata generally would never see such a huge turnout as people from all walks of life gathered to run and be a part of the marathon, which this year had an international touch to it with foreign athletes taking part.
Avinash Sable emerged as the winner in the Elite national section with a record timing of 1:15:17, thereby going past the record set by G. Lakshamanan last year. Lakshamanan ended up with the bronze this year with a timing of 1:17:13 bettering his record from 2016. Kalidas Hirave won the silver with a timing of 1:16:18, which also is better than last year’s record timing of 1:17:23. Thus all three podium finishers broke last year’s record timing.
Said Sable, “I am concentrating for steeplechase. That is my event. The only reason I am running in the 25K is to increase my endurance. The fact that I have come first here goes to say that I am on the right track. My aim is the Commonwealth Games and a podium finish there in my pet event.”
In the Elite women’s category, it was another Ethiopian in the form of Degitu zimeraw with a timing of 1:26:01. Helah Kiprop of Kenya won the silver with a timing of 1:26:04 while Tanzanian Faluna Matanga won the bronze with a timing of 1:26:11
However, it was L. Suriya with a timing of 1:26:53, won the race in the Indian women’s category as she also went past Olympian Sudha Singh’s record of 1:27:31.
Manju Yadav won the silver medal with a timing of 1.32.51 while Bengal’s own Jhuma Khatun ended with the bronze medal with a timing of 1:32:58.
Earlier the race was flagged off by Hon’ble Governor of West Bengal Kesari Nath Tripathi, H H Shri Shri Ravishankar, General Abhay Krishna, GOC&C Eastern Command, Arup Biswas, Minister PWD and Sports, T V Narendran, MD Tata Steel.
Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly and American Mike Powell who were the event ambassadors cheered up the runners as they began their race. Ganguly, while talking to the reporters said, “This is amazing to see the number of people come out and run in the morning. The world Champion running here and a world record holder long jumper watching the race makes TSK 25K really special.”
Powell too spoke along the same lines as he said, “I am thrilled to see so many people come out and run. And the standard of the elite field is also great. The race is competitive and fun to watch.”
Here are the results-
Overall Athlete Men
Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 1:13:48; Tsegay Tuemay (ERI) 1:14:29; Augustino Sulle (TAN) 1:14:41; Avinash Sable (IND) 1:15:17; Asefa Diro (KEN) 1:15:37.
Overall Athlete Women
Degitu Azimeraw (ETH) 1:26:01; Helah Kiprop(KEN)1:26:04; Failuna Matanga(TAN) 1:26:11; Dibabe Kuma (ETH) 1:26:28; L. Suriya (IND) 1:26:53.
Overall Indian Athlete Men
Avinash Sable (IND) 1:15:17; Kalidas Hirave (IND) 1:16:18; G Lakshmanan (IND) 1:17:13; Govind Singh (IND) 1:22:19; Mukesh Singh(IND) 1:22:21; Shander Singh(IND) 1:22:28.
Overall Indian Athlete Women
L. Suriya L (IND) 1:26:53; Manju Yadav (IND) 1:32:51; Juma Khatun (IND) 1:32:58; Monika Athare (IND) 1:34:30; Monika Raut (IND) 1:36:08; Jyoti Gawate (IND) 1:38:52.