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Gopi T: 10 things to know about India's spirited marathoner at Rio Olympics 2016

Here are 10 things you might want to know about Gopi T, who will be representing India in the marathon event at the Games.

Gopi T
Gopi T in action during the Mumbai Marathon

Gopi T will be representing India at Rio Olympics 2016 in the marathon event. The young runner has been tirelessly working hard to see his dreams of winning a medal at the Games and making the country proud come true. Let us now take a look at 10 facts about him:

#1 Thonnakkal Gopi was born on 24 May 1988 in the Wayanad district of Kerala to a family of farmers.

#2 His father Kallingal Babu is a farmer in Sulthan Bathery. He did his schooling from Kakkavayal School and studied at Mar Athanasius College, Kothamangalam. He dropped out of college in his third year while doing his bachelors in Economics.

#3 Gopi had unnatural stamina as a kid and often ran for hours, which made people notice his skills as a marathon runner. He competed in the 5,000m and 10,000m events for his state Kerala.

#4 Gopi soon joined the Indian Army, where he received adequate training to help him enhance his skills as a marathon runner. He received special training at the Army Institute from experts, and worked hard on himself in Ooty and shed a lot of blood and sweat to ensure he improved and advanced as a marathon runner, which eventually helped him qualify for the Rio Olympics.

#5 Gopi had finished second in the Mumbai Marathon earlier this year to qualify for the Rio Olympics, where he would be representing India in the long distance event.

#6 He took a total time of 2:16:15 hours to finish the race and made the cut as the qualifying mark for the Olympics was two hours and nineteen minutes for men. He was the pace setter for the marathon, and was supposed to only run for 30km, however, he still continued and completed the race, finishing 11th overall.

“I was a pace-setter and I was to run only till the 30-km mark. Once I set the pace, my body felt nice. So I continued running, and I am glad I finished second. The Olympic qualification was the icing on the cake.”

#7 He was representing the Army Sports Institute (ASI) of Pune, and the Mumbai Marathon was the first full marathon of his career, as he is basically a 5,000m and 10,000m specialist. He took home a prize money of rs.5.5 lakhs after the race. He received Rs.4 lakhs for finishing second in the race, and an additional Rs.50, 000 for breaking the marathon course record.

"I am a 5000m and 10,000m runner. I have run half-marathons before but never a full marathon. Today, my job was to set the pace for Nitendra. I have never got so much money before, so it feels nice. I didn't expect that I would achieve Olympic qualification at the first go.

#8 Gopi is a very down to earth man, and is positioned as a hawaldar at the Army Artillery Centre in Hyderabad. He plans of giving his optimum best at the Games to finish in the top 3 and make the country proud by winning a medal in his event. The prize money received by him after finishing second in the event was used for his preparations for the Games.

“I am a hawaldar in the Army and the salary that I get I send home and keep some for myself. I will use this money for my Olympic preparation. I wasn't too fond of running marathons, but today's performance is a huge booster.”

#9 Gopi is currently receiving training from Surinder Singh Bhandari, a decorated middle-distance runner who is training him at the Thangaraj Stadium in Wellington. He is undergoing a special type of training that improves one’s muscle hypertrophy. According to Bhandari, Gopi is a very hardworking and focused athlete who has the capability to give a tough fight to the best runners in the world at the Olympics.

#10 Gopi is training along with Nitendra Singh Rawat and Kheta Ram, who will also be competing in the Olympics in the marathon event. This is the first time since 1960 Rome Olympics that three Indian male athletes have qualifies for the Games. 

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