India's elite runners Man Singh, Belliappa A.B. and Karthik Kumar clinched the podium positions in the New Delhi National Marathon here on Sunday and also qualified for the 2023 Asian Games in September.
All three went under the qualifying mark of 2 hours and 15 minutes in an exciting run that went down to the wire much to the delight of cheering fans all along the picturesque route in the heart of the Indian Capital.
Man Singh, who recorded his personal best of 2:16:58 just last month, clocked an impressive 2:14.13 to win the coveted gold medal as well as the cash prize of Rs 1,50,000.
Belliappa (2:14.15), who was breathing down his neck in the final leg, finished just two seconds behind to improve upon his own best by over 2 minutes. He pocketed the silver medal in the process.
Karthik Kumar (2:14.19) crossed the line four seconds behind to take the bronze.
Evergreen Jyoti Gawate took home the gold medal among elite women but could not book her ticket to Hangzhou in China.
She, however, managed 2:53:04 while the target for the women was 2:47 minutes. Ashvini Jadhav (2:53:06) and Jigmet Dolma (2:56:41) took the other two positions on the podium.
"We at NEB Sports had done everything possible to create the best ambience and platform for the athletes to qualify for the Asian Games. We are delighted that three elite men have made it. It's a proud moment for us," NEB's Nagraj Adiga, the Race Director, said.
"I was stumped by the enthusiasm among the runners. I couldn't stop myself from cheering as I saw India's top marathoners enter the Nehru Stadium well under the qualifying mark," world record holder and double Olympic champion David Rudisha, the Brand Ambassador of NDM, gushed. "I congratulate the three qualifiers and wish them all the best for the big one in September," he was quoted as saying in a release on Sunday.
"We are delighted with the response from the running community for the Apollo Tyres New Delhi Marathon. It is heartening that three male athletes have breached the qualifying standards for the Hangzhou Asian Games," Satish Sharma, President (Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa) of Apollo Tyres Ltd said.
Over 16,000 runners took part in the four categories, making it one of the biggest turnouts in the country. The Elite Marathoners set off on their mission at 5 in the morning, with David Rudisha flagging them off along with other dignitaries.
Men: 1. Man Singh (2:14.13); 2. Belliappa AB (2:14.15); 3. Karthik Kumar (2:14.19)
Women: 1. Jyoti Gawate (2:53:04); 2. Ashvini Jadhav (2:53:06); 3. Jigmet Dolma (2:56:41).
Men: 1. Kiran Matre (1:05.57); 2. Nano Guta (1:06.03); 3. Tirtha Pun (1:06.21)
Women: 1. Neetu Kumari (1:17.14); 2. Bisle Bikaye (1:18.26); 3. Ujala Ujala (1:21.31)
Men: 1. Rishipal Singh (0:32.56); 2. Abdisa Wolde (0:32.57); 3. Sunny Kumar (0:34.14)
Women: 1. Ekta Rawat (0:38.12); 2. Rozi (0:38.13); 3. Priti Priti (0:39.22).