Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ethiopians dominate Mumbai Marathon

Ethiopian runners ruled the roost, collecting a bagful of medals in the $360,000 Mumbai Marathon here Sunday.

Tesfaye Abera, making his debut among the men, and women's defending champion Dinknesh Mekash led the charge as Ethiopia dominated the field by winning five of the six medals on offer. Kenyan Luke Kibet denied the Ethiopians a clean sweep by grabbing third place in the men's event.

Both Abrera and Dinknesh, went home richer by $41,000 each.

Abera, 22 and unknown to marathon running, emerged as the surprise by clinching first place (2:09:46) on a not-too-cold morning. Abera, who ran the last stage of the race alone, just missed out on improving the course record (2:09.32) which was set by Ugandan Jackson Kiprop in 2013.

Countryman Dereje Debele finished second (2:10:31) just ahead of Kibet, who clocked 2:10:57 for third position.


The Ethiopians stamped their authority in women's competition, claiming the top three places. Last year's winner Dinknesh (2:30:00) maintained her dominance with another strong performance to defend her title. The 30-year-old was followed by Kumeshi Sichala (2:30:56) and Marta Megra (2:31:45).

Indian women runners also had a field day as O.P. Jaisha, making her debut here, overshadowed winner of the last three editions Lalita Babar to clinch top honours with a new national record of 2:37:29.

Babar, who held the previous course record of 2:50:31 set last year, clocked 2:38:21 to finish second while Sudha Singh was third in 2:42:12. All three girls completed the race well within qualifying mark of 2:44 for the 2015 World Championships in China.

The men's race did not witness stiff competition as many favourites dropped out. Kenya's Henry Sugut, Jacob Cheshari and Filex Kiprotich dropped out due to stomach problems and dehydration.

However, the younger Abera continued to run strongly as he kept pace with the front runners till the 26-km mark before gradually increasing the pace. But after 31 km he sped away and ran alone for the remainder of the race before breasting the tape at the finish line.

"I had a good race and the conditions were alright for me. I am not worried about the record as I only wanted to compete and do well and I have achieved my dream of running a marathon and also going on to win," said the runner, who earlier used to compete in 15 km races.

On the other hand, Dinknesh had a smooth run and received excellent support from her pacemaker, who also finished the race simultaneously. The Ethiopian led from start-to-finish and like Abera, she too, ran the second half alone.

"After the 21-km stage I started to accelerate and got away from the pack and thereafter just strode along to complete another good win," said Dinknesh.

The top honour among the Indian elite men was claimed by Karan Singh of Army Institute of Sports, who retained his title by timing 2:21:35. He was followed by teammates and debutants Arjun Pradhan (2:22:22) in second place and Bahadur Singh Dhoni (2:22:41) in third.

Karan, Arjun, Jaisha and Babar will now get a chance to participate in the prestigious New York City Marathon, an initiative announced earlier by IT giants Tata Consultancy Services.

Meanwhile, Indrajeet Patel and Kavita Raut, successfully defended their men's and women's half-marathon crowns. Patel clinched first place ahead of Atwa Bhagat and Govind Singh, both placed second and third, respectively.

Raut once again showed her mettle by taking pole position while Eve Bugler of Britain emerged second and Supriya Patil third in women's completion.

Karan and Jaisha received gold medals and Rs.5 lakh each.
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