Nitendra Rawat breaks Indian course record as T Gopi and Kheta Ram join him for Rio
Sudha Singh, Lalita Babar and OP Jaisha also qualify for 2016 Olympics
Nitendra Singh Rawat on Sunday set a new Mumbai Marathon course record of 2:15:48 hours by an Indian while his compatriots T Gopi and Kheta Ram came second and third, respectively to automatically qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The Indians who were competing against world class runners raced along the Mumbai roads from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Bandra via the Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link in the country's premier 42.195 km Marathon.
Rawat who had earlier qualified for Rio, broke the previous course record of 2:16.59 hours set by Ram Singh Yadav in 2012. Gopi finished the Marathon in 2:16:15 hours to come second while Ram ended in 2:17:23 hours to emerge third among the Indian contingent.
The cut-off mark to qualify for Marathon in Olympics is two hours 19 minutes for men which the trio completed at ease.
Rawat who made his mark at the recently held World Military Games and qualified for the Rio Olympics, has been in peak form. On Sunday, the Uttarakhand-born displayed his best by finishing tenth overall and overcame several world-class athletes. He had previously won the 2015 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM).
Gopi who ran his first marathon came up with a sterling performance to end 11th overall and grab a place in the Olympics while Ram finished 15th overall.
Kerala-born Gopi had finished second in the 2015 Delhi Half Marathon. Rajasthan-born Ram had earlier won at the Vasai-Virar Mayor's Marathon last year.
On the other hand, Sudha Singh who came third in 2015 Mumbai Marathon with a timing of 2:42:11, came up with a dominating show this time to be the top Indian woman in the race and clock a better timing of 2:39:28. Sudha was the seventh to finish overall.
Sudha, a consistent performer in steeplechase events was an Asian Games gold medallist in 2010. She was also the winner in Mumbai in 2014 in the half-marathon category and was the runner-up at the Delhi Half Marathon in the same year.
Long distance runner Lalita Babar who held the second spot in the last year's Mumbai Marathon, came second this year with a timing of 2:41:55. She finished overall tenth.
In the third position was OP Jaisha from Kerala who is the current marathon national record holder (2:37:29) – a feat she achieved here last year returned third in 2016 with a timing of 2:43:26.
The cut-off mark to qualify for Marathon in Olympics being two hours 45 minutes for women meant all three Sudha, Lalita, Jaisha automatically qualified for the Rio games.
In the half-marathon, Deepak Bapu Kumbhar (1:06:01) topped ahead of Belliappa AB (1:06:37 hour) and third Indrajeet Patel (1:06:59) in the overall category. While, Monika Raut (1:17:20) stood first ahead of Manisha Salunkhe (1:19:17) and third position held by Monika Athare (1:20:08) in the women's category of half-marathon.