SAG: Kavita wins women’s marathon, books Rio berth

The host country won both the gold medals up for grabs, as Nitender Singh Rawat and Kavita Raut took the top of the podium place in the men’s and women’s marathon.

Nitender Singh Rawat (right) and Kavitha Raut who won the men's and women's marathon titles.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

India rounded off its memorable campaign in the athletics events in style at the Indira Gandhi Stadium, Sarasujai, on Friday.

The host country won both the gold medals up for grabs, as Nitender Singh Rawat and Kavita Raut took the top of the podium place in the men’s and women’s marathon, helping India to finish with an impressive haul of 28 gold medals, an equal number of silver medals and nine bronze medals — just a shade lower than the all-time-high of 29-26-8 with which it completed its showing in Kolkata in 1987.

There was another reason which brought cheer to the home team this morning as the Kavita, 30, emerged an easy winner in the women’s race in 2:38:38 and made the cut for the Rio Olympics. The Nashik runner was the lone Indian athlete to achieve qualification from this meet and now joins O. P. Jaisha and Sudha Singh to complete the three quota places that the country has in this event, at the world’s largest sporting extravaganza.

The end result of the gruelling 42km-195m race which had six runners was quite obvious from its early stages as Kavita went ahead almost straightaway and continued to stride along before finishing the race a good 12-minutes earlier than second-placed N. G. Rajasekhara (Sri Lanka) who was timed at 2:50:47.00. Her compatriot B. G. L. Anuradhi came third.

The men’s race which started half-an-hour earlier saw the runners in some sort of confusion towards the finish. The event, given technical issues, was run in a loop of 10km starting from the venue what with the runners then taking to the road and returning to the stadium four times for the finish.

However, as it turned out, Rio-bound Nitender who was involved in a close and tight finish with his Sri Lankan rival Cooray Anuradha Indra thought he had to run an extra lap in the stadium but was quite bewildered before officials intervened and stopped the Indian runner. Nitender was timed at 2:15:18 for the gold medal.

Cooray followed a mere second later while Khetha Ram picked up the bronze medal for the host country at 2:21:14.

The Competition Director, Tony Daniel, commenting on the confusion which prevailed, said all the 10 runners who took part were briefed about the race pattern initially and also individually informed about it later. “For us, there was no confusion,” he said emphatically.

The results (marathon):

Men: 1. Nitender Singh Rawat (Ind) 2:15:18; 2. Corray Anuradha Indra (SL) 2:15:19; 3. Khetha Ram (Ind) 2:21:14.

Women: 1. Kavita Raut (Ind) 2:38:38; 2. N. G. Rajasekhar (SL) 2:50:47; 3. B. G. L. Anuradhi (SL) 2:52:15.