Bekele wins title in his 25K debut

Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele overcame the handicap of running without a pace maker to record a convincing win in the first international edition of the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K on Sunday.

Ethiopian athlete Kenenisa Bekele at the finishing point in Kolkata on Sunday.   -  PTI

Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele overcame the handicap of running without a pace maker to record a convincing win in the first international edition of the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K here on Sunday.

In pleasant weather, Bekele clocked the new course record of 1:13:48 to take the men’s crown and a cheque of $7,500.

Eritrean Tsegay Tuemay (1:14:29) and Tanzanian Augustino Sulle (1:14: 41) fought between themselves to take the second and third places respectively.

In the women’s race, another Ethiopian, Degitu Azimeraw, narrowly won the title with a timing of 1:26:01. Kenyan Helah Kiprop (1:26:04) and Tanzanian Failuna Matanga (1:26:11) were second and third respectively.

Bekele rose to the expectation in his first 25K race even though he could not achieve his target of a better timing. The champion runner, who was the slowest (39:16) at 12km among the top five finishers, picked up pace to break away from the lead group at about 21 km and touch the ribbon comfortably.

“I liked the flat course, but it was difficult to make the race faster without a pace maker. If a pace maker were there, I could have done a minute and half better,” said Bekele.

The current world record of 1:11:18 is held by Kenyan Denis Kimetto.

The top three finishers in the women’s race stayed together till the 24.5km before Degitu gave a late charge. The Ethiopian had a close shave as she avoided hitting the wall on her left, meters away from the finish line.

Highlighting one of the organizational glitches, Helah, who took the second spot, said, “The course is narrow (at some places) and you can hit other (amateur) runners.”

Steeplechaser Avinash Sable succeeded in his strategy of sticking to the international athletes for more than 15km. He returned a fabulous time of 1:15:17 to emerge as the best Indian and overall fourth.

Defending champion G. Lakshmanan made little of a calf muscle cramp to place third and better his course record (1:17:16).

L. Suriya also benefitted from her ploy of running with the international pack and leave her Indian competitors far behind with a time of 1:26:53. Sudha Singh held the course record for women with 1:27:31.

The overall men and women winners got USD 7,500 each, while the Indian winners received Rs 2.75 lakh each.

The results

Overall: Men: 1. Kenenisa Bekele (Eth) 1:13:48, 2. Tsegay Tuemay (Eri) 1:14:29, 3. Augustino Sulle (Tan) 1:14: 41

Women: Degitu Azimeraw (Eth) 1:26: 01, 2. Helah Kiprop (Ken) 1:26:04, 3. Failuna Matanga (Tan) 1:26:11.

Indian: Men: 1. Avinash Sable 1:15:17 (overall fourth), 2. Kalidas Hirave 1:16: 18, 3. G. Lakshmanan 1:17:13.

Women: 1. L. Suriya 1:26:53 (overall fifth), 2. Manju Yadav 1:32: 51, 3. Juma Khatun 1:32:58.