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Neeraj inspires us all to do well for India: Olympian Gopi T….

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Staff Reporter : Kolkata, 16th. December, 2023 : Former Asian Marathon Champion Gopi Thonakal, will lead the Indian Elite field at the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K 2023, it today revealed that all the Indian runners on the track on Sunday will draw inspiration from India’s Olympics hero and Golden Boy Neeraj Chopra.

The US $100,000 prize money race is scheduled for Sunday, December 17. With equal prize money for the Indian Elite men and women winners, the first three in each race stand to win INR 2,75,000, 2,00,000 and INR 1,50,000/- respectively. The Indian Elite men and women runners will also be further incentivised by an Event Record Bonus of INR 1,00,000/- each.

The current event record, in the Indian Elite Men’s category, stands in the name of Avinash Sable with a timing of 1:15:17 and the Indian Elite Women’s record in the name of L. Suriya with a timing of 1:26:53.

A strong Indian Elite field led by 35-year-old Gopi T will challenge an exciting international line-up at the World Athletics Elite Level Race.

Gopi T, the first Indian to win the Asian Marathon Championship crown in 2017 in China with a timing of 2:15:48, is raring to finish at the podium.

“Neeraj not only inspires me but all the Indian athletes. With him winning an Olympic gold, it comes as a motivation for us to do well and bring laurels for our country,” said Gopi T, who in October 2023, took part in the TCS Amsterdam Marathon and finished with a timing of 2:14:58.

“This will be my first road race in Kolkata and I am looking forward to this. I will give my best for a podium finish. Ahead of the Olympics, I have a couple of more races to go starting with the Mumbai Marathon in 2024, so I am confident of making the cut for the Paris Olympics,” added Gopi T, who bagged back-to-back crowns at the New Delhi Marathon in 2017 and 2018.

Challenging Gopi T will be another talented runner in Sawan Barwal, who won the bronze medal at the Asian Half Marathon Championship 2023 with a timing of 1:04:30.

“This will be my first race here, so I would love to make the most of it and challenge the others. I have trained very well. The conditions are perfect here to race and the course is smooth so I hope to give my 100%,” said Barwal.

On the other hand, the women’s field will be led by two talented runners in Ekta Rawat and Reshma Kevate.

Reshma, who recently finished 19th with a timing of 34:38 at the TCS World 10K Bengaluru 2023, said she had to go through a lot of struggles before taking up running.

“I come from a very remote city in Maharashtra. This career option was not accepted initially in my society. I had to go through a tough situation. But the support I received from my parents was exceptional as they valued my dream a lot. Their support helped me shape myself. On Sunday, I hope to make the best use of my preparations and finish well,” said Reshma, who in 2021 won two titles in 10,000 m and 5,000 m in Nashik.

Challenging her for a podium finish will be Ekta, who finished 8th in the Indian women’s elite category at the Vedanta Delhi Half Marathon in 2023.

“I will be aiming to give my best for a good finish on Sunday. Earlier, I used to run to reach to my school. The route was across the river and also tough conditions which surely is coming as a big help for me now,” said Ekta, who won the 10K title at the New Delhi Marathon 2023 by finishing with the timing of 38:12.

Indian Elite Field for the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K 2023
MEN

Gopi T
Sawan Barwal
Gaurav Mathur
MD Aseem
Prince Kumar
Pankaj Kumar

WOMEN

Tamsi Singh
Phoolan Pal
Ekta Rawat
Sanghamitra Mahata
Reshma Kevate
Nirmaben Bharatjee Thakor
Shyamali Singh

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