Olympic champion Dibaba, WR holder Jepkosgei headline Delhi Half Marathon

Having clocked 2:18.55 at the Berlin Marathon recently, Dibaba is confident of winning the USD 27,000 cash prize on Sunday.

Half marathon world record holder Joyciline Jepkosjei, Olympic gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba, Asian marathon champion Gopi Thonakal and Course record holder Nitendra Singh Rawat pose with their bibs at an event ahead of the Delhi Half Marathon 2018, at India Gate in New Delhi on Friday.   -  PTI

Three-time Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia and Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei are set to enhance the competitive flavour of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon to be held here on October 21.

Having clocked 2:18.55 at the Berlin Marathon recently, Dibaba is confident of winning the USD 27,000 cash prize on Sunday.

“One of my plans was to run a 21K (half marathon) after Berlin and my manager told me about Delhi, and I thought it was a good idea,” she said. “I’ve recovered more-or-less, although I wanted to run faster in Berlin. I’ve come to Delhi with the first target of winning, I’m not thinking about the timing too much,” Dibaba added.

Dibaba’s opponent, Jepkosgei, who is also the current world half marathon record holder, sounded equally confident. “I’m very happy to be here – it’s a privilege to meet Indian people – and I’m looking to run a fast time although improving on my world record (of 64:51 set in October 2017) depends on the weather and climate,” noted Jepkosgei.

The competition in the men’s section will pit 2016 Olympic marathoners Gopi Thonakal and Nitender Singh Rawat against each other. Thonakal is winner of the 2017 Asian marathon while Rawat was a strong contender among the Indian runners last year.

According to Vivek Singh, joint managing director of race promoters Procam International, the growing competition is a reflection of the improving standards of the event. “Fifteen years ago, there was no road running culture in India and now we have world record holders and Olympic champions coming here. This is something India can be very proud of,” said Vivek Singh. “The fact that runners like Tirunesh (Dibaba) and Joyciline (Jepkosgei) have chosen the ADHM over the many other race options they had is a great statement for this event and for India.”

The venue was being spruced up for the half marathon which will feature 35,000 runners in various categories. Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium will be the start and finish point with the runners taking off at 5.30 am.