Rio Olympics ends on bright note as Kheta Ram and Thanackal Gopi produce personal best times in marathon
The 2016 Rio Olympics ended on a positive note for India as runners Thanackal Gopi and Kheta Ram produced personal best performances to finish 25th and 26th in the men’s marathon, respectively. Gopi Thanackal finished with a time of 2:15:25, exactly a second ahead of compatriot Kheta Ram, who ended up in the 26th spot. India’s third runner in the marathon, Nitendra Singh, finished 84th in the competition that saw 155 athletes participate but only 140 finish.
Kenyan runner and favourite Eliud Kipchoge took the gold with a timing of 2:08:44. Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia took the silver while Galen Rupp of United States took the bronze. Stephen Kiprotich from Uganda, who ended the Kenyan domination in the marathon event at London 2012, could only manage a 14th place finish this time around.
Yes, the medal tally has not been kind to India this time around with only two medals coming from Badminton and Wrestling at Rio 2016. But the performance of the men in the final event of the games boasting Indian participation shows us how much they have worked in these last four years to finish well in one of the most grueling events, giving their best on the biggest stage.
All three Indian athletes initially looked well behind the pace in the initial stages of the race clocking in 73rd, 77th and 84th after the first 5 kilometres of the race. But as Nitendra Singh Rawat faded towards the middle stages, Kheta Ram and Gopi Thanackal started closing in on the men ahead, slowly gaining pace in the latter stages before eventually finishing with personal best timings. Nitendra Singh could however only manage to finish 84th after being unable to keep up with the pace set by his colleagues.
India’s performance on the final day of Rio gives a glimmer of hope and shows us there is plenty of talent in the farthest corners of the country. With proper facilities and training, we might see these guys finish even higher than they did here today.
The future certainly looks bright for India. Despite the paltry medal haul, the performance of the runners today brings yet another positive for an Indian contingent which certainly played well beyond their leagues in certain events despite missing out on the podium.