TCS World 10K, Bengaluru: Kibiwott Kandie starts as favourite

Among women, Kenyans Hellen Obiri and Irene Cheptai will strive to break the women’s course record of 31:19s.

(From left to right) Muktar Edris, Kibiwott Kandie, Andamlak Belihu, Hellen Obiri, and Irine Cheptai at Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on May 13.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Kenya’s Kibiwott Kandie starts as favourite in the men’s elite field of the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) World 10K Bengaluru, which will be held here on Sunday.

Kandie, a former world half-marathon record-holder, won the Adizero Road to Records 10km event in Herzogenaurach (Germany) with a timing of 26:5s. The blistering run a couple of weeks ago moved him up to fourth spot in world all-time list.

“I am hoping for a very quick race, as this is a very fast course,” Kandie said.

Kandie will be challenged by the Ethiopian duo, Andamlak Belihu and Muktar Edris. Belihu, the defending champion, will hope to make a bright return from an injury layoff. “India is my second home - this is my sixth trip here,” Belihu, who has won the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon twice, said.

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Edris, the 5,000m gold medallist in the 2017 and 2019 World Championships, believes that his best is yet to come. “My previous 10km road races have been on tough courses, often in Italy. However, this looks like a fast course where I can run a personal best,” Edris said.

Hellen, Irene favourites

The women’s elite field will miss defending champion Agnes Tirop, who was found stabbed to death at her home in Iten (Kenya) last year. Organisers and athletes paid tribute to Agnes at an event here.

Kenyans Hellen Obiri and Irene Cheptai lead the field, and will strive to break the women’s course record of 31:19s set by their friend Agnes in 2018. “The Ethiopians are strong, but I have trained very well as well,” Hellen, who won the last two World Athletics Championships 5000m titles, said.

Irene, the 2017 TCS World 10K champion, finished sixth in the 10,000m at the Tokyo Olympics.

Among the Indians, Srinu Bugatha and A. B. Balliappa stand out in the men’s field. The experienced Bugatha won the 2021 Ageas Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon, and the 2020 Tata Mumbai Marathon. Fellow Army athlete Balliappa has earned a marathon spot in the upcoming Asian Games. “The last five kilometers of this road race is on an uphill slope, so that could reduce our timings. The cool and pleasant weather here, however, will aid us,” Balliappa said.

The Indian women’s challenge will be led by Nasik runner Sanjivani Jadhav, who won the 10,000m in the Federation Cup last month. Parul Chaudhary, who has secured qualification for the Asian Games in the 3,000m steeplechase event, is another contender.

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