Delhi Half-marathon: Tokyo Olympics preparation in mind for world’s best runners

Defending champions, Andamlac Belihu and Tsehay Gemechu will be looking to chase a course record.

Andamlac Belihu
Andamlac Belihu

For some of the world’s best runners, the Airtel Delhi half-marathon has come as a pleasant surprise, especially in the pandemic affected season where many races were cancelled. Hence, the Delhi marathon will see a strong field in action on Sunday.

5000m track star, Muktar Idris will be participating. He will look to test his preparation for the Tokyo Olympics. The men’s and women’s defending champions- Andamlac Belihu and Tsehay Gemechu, are also runners to watch out for. Both of them will want to win a hat-trick of titles and will be keen to chase a course record.

Thanks to the organisers that this race is being held. Because of Covid 19 problem everywhere races are closed (this season). I am very happy and excited to be here. The course is fantastic and I have been following a good programme, focused on my training. I think it is possible to break the course record,” said Ethiopian Belihu. He clocked 59:10 on his way to the title last year. His timing however, fell short to Guye Adola’s course record 59:06 seconds set in 2014.

Two-time 5000m World Champion, Muktar Idris will be running in his first half-marathon of the season on Sunday. “We missed the whole season. This race will help me to prepare for the big race (Tokyo Olympics),” he said.

Delhi half-marathon will see a tough competition in the womens race

Tsehay Gemechu
Tsehay Gemechu

Many strong women runners will be participating in the Delhi half-marathon on Sunday. Along with defending champion Gemechu (66:50), half-marathon world record holder Ababel Yeshaneh and marathon world record holder, Brigid Kosgei will also be a part of the coveted event.

Kosgei is one of the world’s top-class runners. She broke Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year old world record in marathon in Chicago last year. She is now training with an eye on the Tokyo Olympics and is coming to New Delhi after defending her London marathon title.

I took 10 days off after London but I have had six weeks of very good training for this race. I have a good record in half marathons. It is a tough field here and it is going to be a tough race on Sunday,” she said. “My target is to win that gold at Tokyo Olympics for my country. The preparations for the Olympics are going on slowly because of the pandemic. This race is part of the preparations now,” she added.

Kosgei and Yeshaneh admitted that they were surprised that the race was being held in Delhi this year. “We lost out on many races this year so when the news came of Delhi race being held, my family asked how come they are holding a race? It was a surprise,” said Yeshaneh. She finished fifth in the half-marathon world championship. Kosgei said she told her family that it was well-organized race. “I told them I will take care of myself and follow the rules,” she said.

Defending champion Gemechu said that they have been training well and were ready to go all out on Sunday. “Because of COVID pandemic restrictions we are not training in groups but individually we have been training well and looking forward to this race. I will look to set a new course record,” she said.

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