New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) World 800m record holder and double Olympic champion David Rudisha has urged Indias top athletes to go all out in the Apollo Tyres New Delhi National Marathon on Sunday and qualify for the Asian Games later this year.
Speaking at the pre-marathon press conference on Saturday, 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,” Rudisha said.
“Marathon is a very special race, the oldest sport in the world in fact,” he said, marvelling at the sport that demands high levels of resilience and endurance.
“I can imagine how tough running 42 kilometres is. My event lasts just 1 min and 40 seconds,” said Rudisha, who is the only athlete to ever run the 800m in 1 min and 41 seconds.
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 mins for men and 2.40 mins 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 egg them on,” Race Director, Nagraj Adiga of NEB Sports, said in a media release.
Satish Sharma, President of Apollo Tyres Ltd (Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa (APMEA), vowed to take the NDM to a higher level. “I am a runner myself and would like to attain greater milestones for the marathon,” he said.
Karnataka’s Belliyappa had recorded 2:16:51 in Valencia 2022 and will need to wipe off close to 2 minutes more to book his ticket to Hangzhou in September.
Anish Thapa Magar, who had won the silver medal in the 2022 New Delhi Marathon with a timing of 2:16:41, will also fancy his chances. Another hot favourite will be Vikram Bangriya who recently won the Bangladesh Marathon 2023 with a personal best of 2:18:28.
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.