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Kipchumba, Dibaba out to rule Delhi roads

THE ASIAN AGE. | DEEPIKA DAS
Published : Oct 21, 2018, 12:26 am IST
Updated : Oct 21, 2018, 12:26 am IST

Sanjivani Jadhav and Monica Athare will highlight the Indian elite women’s category.

Elite athletes Nitendra Singh Rawat (from left), Joyciline Jepkosgei, Tirunesh Dibaba, Gopi Thonakal and Daniel Kipchumba in New Delhi on Saturday, the eve of the Airtel Delhi Half marathon.
 Elite athletes Nitendra Singh Rawat (from left), Joyciline Jepkosgei, Tirunesh Dibaba, Gopi Thonakal and Daniel Kipchumba in New Delhi on Saturday, the eve of the Airtel Delhi Half marathon.

New Delhi: Despite organising the event a month earlier to skip the city’s notorious post-Diwali smog, there is no respite for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon organisers. For the last 10 days the air quality has again dipped in the capital, but the top athletes are not too concerned.

“We have an early morning race so it will not affect us much,” said Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, a three-time Olympic gold medallist.

Dibaba will lead an elite women’s field that also includes Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei, the current world half marathon record holder with a timing of 1 minute 04.51 seconds clocked in Valencia last year.

On a flat and fast course here, Dibaba hopes to leave the country with the $27,000 prize money. She recently won the Berlin Half Marathon and is aiming to keep the momentum going here. “I’ve come to Delhi with the primary target of winning, I’m not thinking about times too much,” added Dibaba, professing herself somewhat uninterested in the ADHM course record of 66:54, which has belonged to Kenya’s Mary Keitany since 2009.

Jepkosgei set a world half marathon best of 1:04:52 in Prague in April, last year and improved it by one second to 1:04:51 in Valencia.

Ethipian trio Ababel Yeshaneh (1:05:46), Worknesh Degefa (1:06:14) and Zeineba Yimer (1:06:21) add competition to the field.

After Berlin Half Marathon champion Eric Kiptanui withdrew with an ankle injury, Kenya’s Daniel Kipchumba will lead the elite men’s field.

Ethiopians Leul Gebresilase (59:18) and Feyisa Lilesa (59:22), New Zealand’s Zane Robertson 59:47 and last year’s runner-up Andamlak Belihu from Ethiopia (59:51) and last year’s third-placed Leonard Korir from the United States (59:52) are the other prominent names to watch out for in the men’s field. Women’s favourite Kenya’s Caroline Kipkirui has also pulled out citing a foot injury.

Gopi, Rawat to lead home challenge
Asian Marathon champion Gopi T. And Nitendra Singh Rawat, who is the defending champion and course record holder in the Indian section, will lead the local challenge.

The two ran a thrilling race at the 2018 Tata Mumbai Marathon where Gopi pipped Rawat in the last 200 metres to become the top finisher among Indians.

Avinash Sable, who stood third in the 2017 edition, will also add teeth to the competition. In the recently concluded Open National Athletics Championships in Bhubaneswar, Sable clinched gold in the 3,000m Steeplechase erasing the 37-year-old national record in the process.

Sanjivani Jadhav and Monica Athare will highlight the Indian elite women’s category.

The $2,80,000 event will witness participants running in four race categories — Half Marathon (elite & amateur), Great Delhi Run, 10K Run, Senior Citizens and Champions with Disability.

Tags: tirunesh dibaba, daniel kipchumba, airtel delhi half marathon