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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.

Find more articles from the author at Sayan Mukherjee.

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