14 December 2018: Tata Steel Kolkata 25Kpromises some stiff competition on race day on December 16 as defending champions Degitu Azimeraw and Avinash Sable look determined to retain their crowns while their compatriots promise a fight to the finish line.
The race that has a unique place on the international athletics calendar as the only 25km race in the world that is an IAAF Label Road Race over the distanceis all set to keep the people guessing on who will breast the winning tape this year.
Ethiopia’s defending women’s champion DegituAzimeraw, who surprised everyone by taking the honours in a TSK25K course record of 1:26.01 in her first international race, sounded confident that she can go even faster in this year’s race.
“I have ambitions to win this race again and I am in very good shape,” said the 19-year-old runner.“Last year’s race changed my life and I am happy to return here.”
Meanwhile India’ s Avinash Sable said “This year I am prepared better than the previous year.I have come here to break my own record. Now I am training in the national camp Bangalore.Last here I ran 25k for the first time and I did well so this year I have come here to win.My next target is to succeed in the steeplechase in 2020.”
Women’s L.Suriyasaid:” I am happy with my training.Our coach is good,Sudha(Singh)di and other seniors help so much in my training.I will give my best for betterment of my timing this year. I like coming back here and living up to the expectations.”
Sudha Singhwants to improve on her record here and give Surya a healthy competition. She is training with Surya under Olympian coach Surinder Singh.She is also taking it as a preparation for the Mumbai Marathon.”
Meanwhile,Kenya’s two-time world champion Florence Kiplagat on the start line in Kolkata.Kiplagat, agold medallist at the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships and the 2010 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and alsoa former half marathon world record holder, admitted that that last two years have been difficult as she has battled injuries.
“My training has been interrupted with injuries and also I had a bad spider bite on my left calf earlier in the year and it swelled up. But I killed the spider,” joked Kiplagat, who now juggles being a top-class runner with being a mother and businesswoman in Kenya.
Kiplagat is also a two-time former winner of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon and mentioned how much she enjoys Indian races – and the hospitality of race promoters Procam International – and despite her far-from-perfect preparations, she anticipates not letting down Indian athletics fans.
“25km is a good distance for me. To
be honest, despite my results, I don’t enjoy marathons as much as half marathons.”
Her compatriot Eric Kiptanui boldly predicted he would beat the Indian all-comers best and course record of 1:13:48 set by Ethiopian distance running legend Kenenisa Bekele last year and might even be in shape to challenge the world best of 1:11:18 set by another Kenyan, Dennis Kimetto, in Berlin in 2012.
“After Berlin (where he ran a half marathon in 58:42, the third fastest time of the year) I had some injury problems but I’m over them now and feel ready to run very well. Seeing Eliud Kipchoge run a world marathon record in September has inspired me, he’s my neighbour and lives just 800m away from my house. I think that next year I can break the world half marathon record (58:18 by Kenya’s Abraham Kiptum, set last month in Valencia),” commented Kiptanui.
Ethiopia’s BirhanuLegese who,like Florence Kiplagat, is also a two-time former Airtel Delhi Half Marathon champion and most recently ran in India in May this year when he was second in the TCSW10K in Bengaluru, will try to maintain his country’s winning streak.
“I like racing in India a lot as it’s often warm races and I seem to do well in them,” said Legese, who has ambitions of not only beating Bekele’s course record but, perhaps, challenging the Ethiopian national best of 1:11:37, set by another Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie.
UPDATED INTERNATIONAL ELITE FIELD
Birhanu Legese (ETH)
Eric Kiptanui (KEN)
Augustino Sulle (TAN)
Amos Kipruto (KEN)
Robert Chemonges (UGA) *
Shumi Dechasa (BRN) *
Samson Gebreyohannes (ERI)
Nathan Ayeko (UGA)
Fentahun Hunegnaw (ETH)
Bayelign Yegsaw (ETH) *
Degitu Azimeraw (ETH)
Florence Kiplagat (KEN)
Loganathan Suriya (IND) *
Dibaba Kuma (ETH) *
Sudha Singh (IND) *
Sutume Asefa (ETH)
Ftaw Zeray (ETH) *
Linet Toroitich (UGA) *
HawiMegersa (ETH) *