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Neeraj to return to track at National Open Athletics Championship

Press Trust of India

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Neeraj Chopra
Neeraj Chopra

Ranchi: Star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra will return to action after a year-long injury lay-off when the 59th National Open Athletics Championships begins here on Thursday.

Neeraj, who had clinched gold medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Jakarta Asian Games, has not taken part in any competition in more than a year since throwing 83.90m at the Services Athletics Championships in Jalahalli on September 19 last year.

The 21-year-old was training in Potchefstroom, South Africa when it was diagnosed that his elbow injury needed surgery in May last year.

With the Tokyo Olympic Games less than 10 months away, Neeraj will be keen to show that his rehabilitation has progressed on expected lines.

“I really want to get back to the competition mode and since this is the last competition of the season, I want to use this event to get into the feeling of competition. I had spoken to my doctors and they have said I am okay to compete,” he said.

“I am feeling good. Much better now. I started training in Patiala few weeks back and throws are going well in training.”

The meet will be an opportunity for Indian athletes to not only perform well and secure ranking points but also try and match the stiff qualification standards set by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Besides Neeraj, the focus will also be on sprinters Muhammed Anas Yahiya and VK Vismaya, long jumper Sreeshankar, metric miler Jinson Johnson, woman javelin thrower Annu Rani, sprinter Dutee Chand as well as shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor, to name a few.

Men’s 400m national record holder Muhammed Anas and woman quartermiler Vismaya were part of the 4x400m relay men’s and women’s teams which failed to reach the finals at the recently-concluded World Championships in Doha.

Annu Rani had broken the national record and entered the women’s javelin throw final at the Worlds and will be eagar to produce another superlative performance.

Dutee had finished seventh in the women’s 100m heats at the World Athletics Championships and will hope to do better here.

The event will also provide chance to others who are trying to get into the National squad.

Meanwhile, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has rejected the entries of 46 athletes, including 37 men and nine women, who were seeking to represent Manipur despite not belonging to the state.

At its annual general meeting in Agra earlier this year, the Federation had warned all states units not to encourage such practices.

Besides, a number of athletes from Karnataka have been accommodated as AFI entries since the Federation had decided to suspend the Karnataka Athletics Association for delaying the intimation to not host the National Open in Bengaluru due to non-availability of the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.

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Athletics

Two much fun for Belihu, Gemechu at Airtel Delhi Half Marathon

Sayan Mukherjee

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ADHM 2019
Andamlak Belihu bettered his timing by eight seconds this year.

New Delhi: Ethiopians trumped Kenyans in a long-standing rivalry between the two East African middle and long distance running powerhouses as Andamlak Belihu and Tsehay Gemechu defended their Airtel Delhi Half Marathon titles on Sunday.

Belihu clocked 59:10 to retain the men’s title at the 15th edition of the event while Gemechu (66:00) reset the event record, producing her personal best timing at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Belihu improved by eight seconds on last year’s timing at the IAAF Gold Label Race, finishing ahead of compatriot Solomon Berihu (59:17) and Kenya’s Kibiwott Kandie (59:33).

Ethiopia’s Guye Adola (59.06) set the course record in 2014, Belihu came up short by only 4 seconds.

In the women’s section, Ethiopians swept the podium as Gemechu was followed by Yelamzerf Yehualaw (1:06:01) and Zeineba Yimer (1:06:57).

Last year, Gemechu had produced a personal best of 66:50 to set a course record. The 21-year-old shaved off 50 seconds off her 2018 timing.

The winners got richer by $27,000 first prize. Gemechu pocketed an additional $10,000, for setting the course record.

“I am happy to have broken the course record. I was tired after participating at the World Championships in Doha. But I wanted to win in Delhi. I am very happy to have achieved my personal best as well,” said Gemechu.

Belihu said he was disappointed o have missed the course record by such a small margin.

“I am a bit disappointed to have missed the course record but overall it was a good race. I plan to run a few marathons and half marathons. But it depends on my training. I need to discuss with my coach before taking a call,” he said.

Among Indians, Srinu Bugatha topped in the men’s section with a timing of 1:4:33. Three- time ADHM champ Suresh Patel (1:04:57) was second, ahead of Harshad Mhatre (1:05:12).

In women’s section for Indians, Loganathan Suriya, the course record holder, triumphed with a timing of 1:12:49, followed by Parul Chaudhary (1:13:55) and Chinta Yadav (1:15:28).

Sports minister Kiren Rijiju, event ambassador Carmelita Jeter were present at the event to encourage the athletes.

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Athletics

Cash bonus added incentive for Indian runners at 2019 ADHM

Sayan Mukherjee

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2019 ADHM
Indian athletes Shankar Man Thapa (from left to right), Pradeep Chaudhary, Srinu Bugatha, Parul Chaudhary, L Suriya, Meenu, Anil Kumar Yadav and Man Singh practice at the JLN Stadium on Saturday.

New Delhi: Money would be an added motivation for Indian athletes at the 2019 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon.

Indian runners would be awarded a bonus of Rs 1 lakh if they succeed in setting a new course record this year. A total of 22 men and 23 women would participate in the race on Sunday.

Among them, course record holder L Suriya, Parul Chaudhary and Priti Lamba are top names in the women’s section. Suresh Kumar Patel, Srinu Bugatha, Pradeep Chaudhary would be th ones to look out for in the men’s category in the IAAF Gold Label race.

Suriya set the course record with a time of 1:10:31 in 2017. She said she is looking foward to better that mark.

“In 2017 I enjoyed the run as the weather was also good, which helped me put up a good performance that year. I am looking forward to another great experience,” Suriya said.

Parul Chaudhary said the athletes are happy with the cash incentive on offer. “I will definitely give it my all to achieve a bonus prize this year,” she said.

Pradeep and Srinu hoped the improved weather conditions since Friday would suit the runners on Sunday.

“The conditions are windy and suitable for runners,” Pradeep said.

“I am targetting clocking my best time and will try to break the course record,” said Bugatha.

After helping Kipchoge create history, ‘kingmaker’ Kiptanui wants to be ‘king’ at 2019 ADHM

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Athletics

After helping Kipchoge create history, ‘kingmaker’ Kiptanui wants to be ‘king’ at 2019 ADHM

Sayan Mukherjee

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Eric Kiptanui
Eric Kiptanui is considered to be the dark horse at the 2019 ADHM. Photo: @IAAF

New Delhi: Reflected glory is not necessarily a bad thing, there’s a certain pleasure to be derived from it. But after setting pace for Eliud Kipchoge’s epoch-making sub-two hour marathon run at Vienna, ‘kingmaker’ Eric Kiptanui now wants to become the ‘king’ at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM).

Kenyan Kiptanui was the captain of the 14 pacemakers for his compatriot’s Ineos 1:59 Challenge, where Kipchoge became the first person to run a marathon (42.2km) under two hours. He broke the sub-two barrier by running a marathon in 1:59:40.

However, Kipchoge’s achievement, however, is not an official record as his run in Vienna didn’t adhere to standard marathon rules.

“I was a little bit nervous. I wanted Kipchoge to run harder towards the end,” Kiptanui said on Friday.

Marathon world record holder Kipchoge had assembled a 41-person pacing team, a compilation of some of the best runners, to help him achieve the mark.

The runners chosen were either one of the fastest in 2019, a continental champion, World Championship or Olympic finalist, national record holder or some combination of the four.

While being grateful to have been at such a close proximity of a historic moment in athletics, Kiptanui now wants to be the man making the headlines.

“Ofcourse I want to be the king. I think after Eliud I will get the chance to be the headline maker,” the 29-year-old said.

Though a specialist half marathoner on the long-distance athletics circuit, Kiptanui will be making his debut at the Delhi half marathon this year.

His stock has steadily increased over the last two years with wins at the 2018 Lisbon Half Marathon, Berlin Half Marathon and the Barcelona Half Marathon in 2019

“I enjoy running half marathons. But I am progressing towards the marathons now,” he informed.

He anticipates a tough fight on Sunday from Ethiopia’s Andamlak Belihu, the defending ADHM champion, who would be looking to better his compatriot Guye Adola’s course record (59:06).

Belihu clocked 59:18 to win last year but missed out on the course record by 12 seconds. Belihu also won the TCS World 10K title in Bengaluru in May.

“It was a little frustrating just missing out on the course record last year but after coming here and doing well in Delhi in the last two years, I have experience and think I know what it takes go faster. The most important thing is to win but if the pace is good, I can beat the course record,” commented the 20-year-old Belihu.

“I have trained after Vienna to freshen up my body and I am ready to run on Sunday,” Kiptanui said.

“Ethiopians are tough. They have power to finish races strongly whereas Kenyans often don’t have enery at the finish line.”

While the Kenya vs Ethiopia East African battle will be the highlight of the men’s race this year, the women’s field will be led by defending champion Tsehay Gemechu. Ethiopian Gemechu of Ethopia set a course record of 66:50 last year.

ADHM 2019

The top men and female athletes at a 2019 ADHM event in New Delhi on Friday.

Kenyan-born Kazakhstan national Caroline Kipkirui, the fastest woman in the race with a best of 65:07, will be Gemechu’s leading rival.

“This will be a very tough race. The Ethiopian women are very strong but don’t discount me and the Kenyans like (Edith) Chelimo and (Irene) Cheptai,” said Kipkirui, who is sixth on the all-time list for the distance.

The ADHM’s 15th edition will flaunt seven sub-60 minute runners among men and nine sub-70 minute runners among women.

Over 40,000 will participate in various races on Sunday. The men’s and women’s winners will get richer by $27,000. The total prize money purse (men and women combined) is $275,000.

Joint managing director of the ADHM, an IAAF Gold Label Race, promotors Procam International, Vivek Singh, said he was glad to “have both our defending champions come back to the ADHM.”

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