10K test for Chhetri

I've got a strong challenge ahead of me, says striker
Last Updated 15 May 2013, 17:00 IST

Over the last five editions of the 10K run in Bangalore, the Garden City has witnessed several celebrities grace the event.

From Deepika Padukone to model-actor Milind Soman, these celebrities have done their bit to bring people out of their homes on what would have been an otherwise lazy Sunday. And this time, star footballer Sunil Chhetri will join their ranks.

“I feel really great coming to Bangalore and running this (TCS) 10K (on Sunday),” said Chhetri here on Wednesday during the launch function of the Nike ‘Finisher Tee’ --  a special edition T-shirt that will be handed out to the first 1000 finishers (850 men and 150 women).

“I’ve been informed that a lot of Bangaloreans clocked decent times last year which means I’ve got a strong challenge ahead of me. I’ve also been told that only the top 1000 runners get this T-shirt. So what I’m wearing now I need to return it -- I’m very honest about it -- and earn it by finishing among the top 1000. I just hope all the people in Bangalore embrace the event and come out in numbers,” added the star striker.

Apart from being a complete novice in long distance running, Chhetri also hasn’t trained for Sunday’s race as he was busy celebrating his club Churchill Brothers’ I-League title triumph. Aware of the tough road ahead, the 28-year-old said he’ll complete the race no matter what.

“Although we do a lot of running in football, it’s completely different from distance running. In football, we never run 10 km. It is something that I’m doing out of my league for a very good cause. It’s a big event and I’m going to try my best. I’m not going to go crazy, I’m just going to maintain my normal pace. It’s just going to be normal jogging. If I feel flat, then I’ll crawl!” said Chhetri.

Chhetri realised his major dream of winning the I-League this season. Though he made his debut in the national league in 2002, the striker hasn’t tasted success despite playing for seven clubs. “It feels great,” said the Delhiite. “It’s been a decade since I started playing I-League and I’ve come second, third, fourth and even fought relegation.

I had won the title with Dempo once but I didn’t play any role as I had to leave for Kansas City.

“So it feels really amazing to win the biggest domestic football title. We really worked hard for this. I played only seven games for Churchill but the entire coaching staff and team were extremely supportive. It’s a hard-earned victory and I’m really satisfied.”

Chhetri, who was loaned to Churchill by Sporting Lisbon, was non-committal about his future. “I’m just going to enjoy the next 10 days and will take a call on it later.”

(Published 15 May 2013, 17:00 IST)

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