Rawat, Sudha break new grounds
Gain Qualifying Marks For World Championships
Mumbai: En route to being the fastest Indians at the Tata Mumbai Marathon on Sunday, Niten-dra Singh Rawat and Sudha Singh achieved something they wanted more than anything else qualification for the World Championships in Doha this year, Rawat won the race with a
timing of 2:15:52, eight seconds under the men's qualification time of 2:16. Sudha on the hand, not only qualified for the World Championships, but also broke OP Jaisha's course record of 2:37:29 with a personal best of 2:34:56. The qualifying mark for womenatthe September-October games was set at 2:37.
Gopi Thonakal came second amongthelndian men withatim-ing of 2:17:03 while Karan Singh finished third (2:20:10). Among the Indian women, Jyote Gawte came a distant second at 2:45:48
SL Shanth Kumar
QUEST FOR GLORY: Elite athletes participate in the Mumbai Marathon in Mumbai on Sunday. Runners from Africa maintained their dominance
while Ladakh's Jigmet Dolma stood third at 3:10:42. Sudha a 3000m steeplechase specialist and winner of gold and silver medals in the 2010 and 2018 Asian Games could've broken the national record of 2:34:43 set in 2015 by Jaisha, but says she didn't have a watch so didn't know her time.
"I always run without a watch," she told TOI. "If I do wear a watch, I get distracted and it affects my performance. I'm not regretting it. Now that I've ran under 2:35 in this difficult course (because of the hills), I know that
I can improve my timing by two-three minutes if I continue my training diligently" she said. Rawat missed out on bettering the course record of 2:15:48 setbyhim in 2016. "I didn't know that there was only a four-second difference. Had I known, I would've pushed a little harder. Four seconds is not a lot, " he said.
He did have to push quite a lot, actually. After his closest rival and Asian marathon champion Gopi strained his calf a little after the 35kmmark, there was nobody who was really pushing him. And that's why despite having a strain
in his stomach, Rawat managed to pull through. "I think I added too much honey in my personalised drink that I took at the 35km mark. I began feeling a strain but I knew I had to complete the race because the World Championship qualifying time was at stake," he said. On crossing the finishing line, the usually cheerful Rawat, exulted like no tomorrow but then broke down in tears.
"I don't know why I started crying and celebrating. Maybe I celebrated like that because I wanted to signal to my detractors that I'm. The tears perhaps were because I ran the last stretch w ith immense pain in my stomach," Rawat said.
Training for the World Championships is imperative for Rawat and Sudha, and they've already chalked out their respective plans. Rawat will only run the London Marathon in April before the Doha games while Sudha will concentrate on the Asian Championships in March where she will compete in the steeplechase. Asked how she divides her time bet ween the two events, Sudha said she's been doing it from the start, so she's used to it.
"Marathon training is endurance which I need for the steeplechase. I then have to only practice hurdles to be ready for the steeplechase," she said.