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Running 10,000m track race below 29 minutes in Indian conditions is a respectable time, says national distance coach Surendra Singh

World Athletics Championships Oregon22 - Day Three
Distance running under Indian conditions is challenging

For the first time in more than 15 years, three leading distance runners clocked sub-29 minutes for the men’s 10,000m track race. All three medal winners finished below 29 minutes and improved the National Games record of G Lakshmanan, who clocked 29:13.50 seconds in 2015.

Gulveer Singh of Services won men’s 10,000m gold in 28:54.29 on Monday (October 3) in Gandhinagar at the Gujarat National Games. While Abhishek Pal of Uttar Pradesh was a close second in 28:54.98. Kartik Kumar of Services was third in 28:55.00.

Surendra Singh, the national coach, told Sportskeeda over the phone.

“All three athletes are young and have the potential to do better in the future. I believe they will further improve their performance in 2023.”

Gujarat’s pre-race favorite Murali Kumar Gavit finished a disappointing fifth in 29:43.53. The 2019 Asian bronze medalist in 10,000m has a personal best of 28:38.34. While seven athletes clocked below 30 minutes, an equal number didn’t finish the race.

Before taking up the coaching assignment in 2013-2014, Surendra Singh was one of the best distance runners in India. Way back in 2007, Singh clocked an impressive 28 minutes 57 seconds during a domestic meeting in Kolkata, West Bengal. A year later he improved the national 10,000m record to 28:02.89 in Spain in 2008. He competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games finishing 19th in the 10,000m race.

Since 2008 no male Indian athletes have qualified for the Olympic Games in the men’s 10,000 race.

The national distance coach added:

“Running 10,000m track race below 29 minutes in challenging Indian conditions that are hot and humid is a respectable time.”

Long way to go for Indian distance runners

To put things in perspective, the Gujarat National Games champion wouldn’t have finished in the top 15 at the 2022 World Athletics Championships.

At the Eugene World Athletics Championships held in Oregon, USA, Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei sprinted home to win the gold medal in 27:27.43 seconds. In a tactical race, Cheptegei's time in the last 400m was below 55 seconds.

Kenya’s Stanley Waithaka Mburu won silver in 27:27.90, while Jacob Kiplimo from Uganda took home bronze in 27:27.97.

In a tactical race, Canadian-born American distance runner Grant Fisher, having a season-best of 26:33.84, couldn’t win a medal at the Eugene World Athletics Championships. He finished fourth in 10,000m with a time of 27:28.14.

The top 15 finishers in Eugene were below 28 minutes. Moreover, athletes with a strong finishing kick on the last lap of the 25-lap race have a bright chance of a podium finish.

The national coach said:

“With International racing experience Indian athletes could also bridge the gap.”

India’s national record holder in men’s 10,000m said that when he was an active athlete, he didn’t take food supplements.

Singh revealed:

“I always preferred natural food and fruits to artificial food (read supplements).”
“Nowadays the trend has changed. Several top athletes are spending over Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 per month on food supplements.”

The national distance coach said that without hard work, supplements are of no use. He added:

“The young athletes should understand what is good and what is bad.”
Edited by Puranjay
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