Kenya’s legendary world 800m record holder and double Olympic champion David Rudisha has come to New Delhi to inspire a host of Indian marathon and long distance runners. The simplicity of the genius Rudisha is awe-inspiring. Speaking at the pre-marathon press conference, Kenya’s legendary middle-distance runner pointed out that this was the last opportunity and platform for India’s top marathoners to win their berths for the Hangzhou Games in September.
“The weather is perfect. I believe the flat course is also ideal for a marathon. So, remain confident, don’t lose sight of your targets, and give it your all,” he said.
“The marathon is a very special race, the oldest sport in the world,” he said, admiring the sport that requires extreme resilience and endurance.
“I can imagine how tough running 42 kilometre is. My event lasts just 1 minute and 40 seconds,” Rudisha, who is the only athlete to ever run the 800m in 1 minute and 41 seconds, added, amidst thunderous applause.
The Apollo Tyres New Delhi National Marathon on Sunday is a huge opportunity for Indian marathon runners to qualify for the coming Hangzhou Asian Games. However, it is highly unlikely that many athletes would meet the qualifying standards, as the mark appears to be better than the best of most of the athletes. The qualifying time for men’s in the Asian Games is 2:15:00, while the time for women is 2:40:00.
World 800m record holder and double Olympic champion David Rudisha urged India’s top athletes to go all out in the Apollo Tyres New Delhi National Marathon on Sunday (February 26) and qualify for the Asian Games later this year.
As many as 16,000 runners will be competing in the New Delhi Marathon, organised by NEB Sports under the aegis of the Athletics Federation of India and Fit India. The iconic run will cover key landmarks in the heart of the capital, including Humayun’s Tomb, Lodhi Garden, and Khan Market.
India’s highest-ranked marathon runner, AB Belliyappa, will lead a pack of 32 men and 7 women elite athletes as they aim to breach the target (2.15 minutes for men and 2.40 minutes for women) for the Asian Games.
“The NDM is run on perhaps one of the best courses in India. Our aim is to facilitate the elite athletes, with 28 stations for hydration and cheering teams en route to encourage them,” Race Director Nagraj Adiga of NEB Sports revealed.
Vikram Bangriya, who recently won the Bangladesh Marathon 2023 in 2:18:28, is another strong contender.
Belliyappa from Karnataka had a time of 2:16:51 in Valencia 2022 and will need to shave nearly 2 minutes off his time to get to Hangzhou in September. Anish Thapa Magar, who won the silver medal in the 2022 New Delhi Marathon with a timing of 2:16:41, will also fancy his chances.
Srinu Bugatha (2:14:59; 2021), Govindan Lakshmanan (10,000 and 5,000 Asian Champion; 2017), and Man Singh (2:16:58; 2023) will also be keenly watched. Among women, Jyoti Gawate (2:45:48; 2019) will be India’s best bet.
The runners will participate across the four categories of Full Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K and 5K.
The marathon has prize money of 3 lakh INR for the top three men and women, while the winners of the half marathon will get 1.12 lakh INR, and the prize money for the podium finishers of the 10K run is 35,000 INR.
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