Mumbai, January 20: Asian Games medallist Sudha Singh attained the women's qualifying mark for this year's world championship in Doha along with Nitendra Singh Rawat, who dipped under the men's mark, as both finished on top among host country's runners in the Tata Mumbai Marathon on Sunday (January 20).
Sudha Singh also set a personal best of 2:34:56 while finishing a creditable eighth overall, well under the qualifying mark of 2:37:00 set by IAAF for the September-October Doha World Championships.
The woman athlete, a 3000m steeplechase specialist and winner of gold and silver medals in the 2010 and 2018 Asian Games, finished just ahead of former champion Dinkesh Mekash of Ethiopia who was in 9th spot in 2:36:31. Her earlier personal best in the marathon was 2:35:35 that she clocked while finishing 19th in the 2015 Beijing World Championships.
The Indian Railways athlete also bettered the national course record of 2:37:29, which previously stood in the name of O P Jaisha since 2015. This was her third best finish among Indians, bringing her on par with Lalita Babar, who did it three times in a row between 2012 and 2014.
But Jaisha's national best mark of 2:34:43, also done in the 2015 Worlds, remained standing. Jyoti Gawte emerged as the second-best among Indian women in clocking 2:45:48, while Jigmet Golma was third well behind in a slow 3:10:42. The race was won by Ethiopian woman Worknesh Alemu in 2:25:45 who led her country's clean sweep of all three podium places.
Rawat gained by cramps developed by last year's best Indian finisher and Asian marathon champion Gopi Thonakal to end up as the top home country finisher in 2:15:52, just under the men's worlds qualifying mark of 2:16:00.
Thonakal, who told PTI that he had developed cramps in his calf at the 35-km mark when he was comfortably ahead of Rawat, managed to come in second among Indians in 2:17:03 while Karan Singh took the third spot. Sudha Singh was happy with her performance.
"I had not thought about 2.34, so I am very happy with the performance," said the athlete, who was training with her pace maker Vicky Tomar who is also a steeple-chaser.
"I was training with the pace maker for two months and hence things were set. The weather for good. My target was to complete below 2 hours 37 minutes. I want to thank my coach," she said, adding that she was supported by her employers, the Central Railway.
Rawat, who now plans to take part in the April 29 London Marathon, said therace was good and the time could have been better but there were ups and downs in second half.
"I would request Procam (Mumbai marathon organisers) to help me financially for the London trip and visa," he said.
1. Nitendra Singh Rawat 2:15:52,
2. Gopi Thonakal 2:17:03,
3. Karan Singh 2:20:10.
1. Sudha Singh 2:34:56,
2. Jyoti Gawte 2:45:48,
3. Jigmet Dolma 3:10:42.
Women's half marathon:
1. Meenu Prajapathi 1:18:05,
2. Saigeeta Naik 1:19:01,
3. Manju Yadav 1:25:11.
Men's half marathon:
1. Srinu Bugatha 1:05:49,
2. Shankar Man Thapa 1:06:07,
3. Kalidas Hirave 1:06:38.