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Delhi Half Marathon : Nashik duo provide nail-biting last second finish

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549   //    21 Nov 2016, 15:49 IST
Monika Athare, the fastest Indian woman at the Delhi Half Marathon

It all seemed like a scene from a movie. 20-year old Sanjeevani Jadhav, running her first ever half marathon, looked all set to finish the race as the fastest Indian woman in the field as she shuttled down the home stretch. However, like a bolt from the blue, Monika Athare pipped her to the finish line in an enthralling manner, overtaking her opponent at the last possible moment to clinch the win by one second.

As both women sprawled on the ground out of sheer exhaustion, the contrast of emotions on both faces was a truly moving experience for everyone watching.

Both Athare and Jadhav hail from Nashik district in Maharashtra and have been under the tutelage of coach Vijendra Singh for more than a decade. After such a stellar performance by his wards at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on Sunday, Singh was unable to hide his pride after the race.

He said, “I’m very happy with their performances. Both Monika and Sanjeevani recorded personal bests today and all the hard work put in by them has come to fruition.”

It was the second time that Athare stood on the podium in Delhi after she had finished second behind Arjuna awardee Preeja Sreedharan in 2014. She led the race up to the 40-minute mark, after which Jadhav took control. But in dramatic fashion, Athare used all her experience and dug deep into her energy reserves to clinch the gold medal at the very last moment with a remarkable sprint.

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She said that she was expecting to finish around the 1-hour and 16-minute mark prior to the race but her final timing of 01:15:34 makes for some impressive viewing. “We have been practising for a long time for the Delhi half marathon and even skipped Diwali to prepare properly,” said Athare. She credited her coach for the win and also stated that the support she received from the cheering viewers pushed her to finish strongly towards the end.

Athare (right) had finished in second place two years back

Despite missing out on the gold medal by the slightest of margins, Jadhav was upbeat after what was her first ever competitive half marathon race. She said that she wasn’t expecting much going into the race but once she found her rhythm, she started believing she could actually go on to win.

Her coach said that he expects big things from Jadhav in the near future. He said, “If all goes well in the next 2-3 years, she is destined to become a future star. I have never seen anyone her age finish at one hour 15 minutes and so, she is someone who can win laurels for the country at international level in the coming years.”

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