Big field of international elite runners for TSK 25K

Ethiopia’s Degitu Azimeraw will look to defend her title.

An elite field of long-distance runners of international fame promise to make the fifth edition of Tata Steel Kolkata 25K a competitive affair.   -  pti

An elite field of long-distance runners of international fame promise to make the fifth edition of Tata Steel Kolkata 25K a competitive affair when IAAF label road race arrives here on Sunday morning.

The women’s section will have Ethiopia’s Degitu Azimeraw looking to defend her title in the women’s category while there will be a new champion in the men’s section in absence of the Ethiopian icon and holder Kenenisa Bekele.

The men’s elite field has Birhanu Legese (Ethiopia), who is likely to be challenged by the likes of Eric Kiptanui (Kenya) and Augustino Sulle of Tanzania.

The Indian field is also quite strong with defending champion Avinash Sable eyeing another glory. The women’s section features last year’s winner L. Suriya and Sudha Singh.

With the race gaining the prestigious IAAF bronze label, becoming the only 25km race in the world with IAAF certification, the completion is going to get keener.

Azimeraw, who surprised everyone by taking the title last year with a course record of 1:26.01s, said she is confident of another good show. “I am in very good shape and am looking to do well once again. Last year’s race changed my life and I am happy to return here,” the 19-year-old Ethiopian runner said.

The women’s section has another decorated runner in Kenya's two-time world champion Florence Kiplagat on the start line. Kiplagat, a gold medallist at the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships and the 2010 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, said she is looking forward to a good race, having recovered from injury.

Her compatriot in men’s category Kiptanui expressed his desire to better the course record of 1:13:48 set by Bekele last year. Kiptanui is expected to receive a serious challenge from Legese.

The international elite field: Men: BirhanuLegese (Eth), Eric Kiptanui (Ken), AugustinoSulle (Tan), Amos Kipruto (Ken), Robert Chemonges (Uga), Shumi Dechasa (Brn), Samson Gebreyohannes (Eri), Nathan Ayeko (Uga), Fentahun Hunegnaw (Eth), Bayelign Yegsaw (Eth).

Women: Degitu Azimeraw (Eth), Florence Kiplagat (Ken), Failuna Matanga (Tan), L. Suriya (Ind), Dibaba Kuma (Eth), Sudha Singh (Ind), Sutume Asefa (Eth), Ftaw Zeray (Eth), Linet Toroitich (Uga), Hawi Megersa (Eth).