Creditable finish by Jaisha

Creditable finish by Jaisha

Indian breaks national record; Dibaba wins

Creditable finish by Jaisha

For someone who hates running marathons, O P Jaisha has done remarkably well in the energy-sapping road event. She smashed a 19-year-old national record in her debut marathon back in January in Mumbai and on Sunday at the World Championships in Beijing, the 32-year-old improved it further to finish a highly creditable 18th.

Jaisha and Sudha Singh were the only Indians featuring on the final day of the programme and following her senior partner, Sudha too delivered a strong performance, coming home in 19th place, also going under the national record.

On a cloudy and cool morning, Jaisha clocked two hours 34 minutes and 43 seconds to rewrite her record of 2:37:29 while Sudha timed 2:35:35 to better her previous best of 2:42:12. Sudha thus fulfilled the Rio Olympics qualifying standard of 2:42.00. Jaisha had already qualified for the Rio Olympic Games with her Mumbai time.

“It’s good to finish so high on your debut World Championships, especially because this is only my second marathon, but I would still prefer to run the 1500 metres. I don’t like marathons at all,” said Jaisha.

“It is not very difficult to run the marathon, I am not feeling that tired also but I prefer to run the shorter track event. I feel I can do much better in the 1500M but our coach (Nikolai Snesarev) feels we are better suited for marathons that is why I am here,” stressed Jaisha.

In a race won in 2:27:35 by Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba, the Indians were with the leading bunch at the start but settled into their own pace and then accelerated in the final kilometres to complete a notable show.

“We knew we couldn’t mat­ch their pace. The coach had to­ld us to run at our pace and th­at is what we did,” said Sudha. “Two hours and 32 minutes was our target and we came close to that.”

Dibaba, not related to the more famous Tirunesh and Genzebe, started to assert herself after the 30km mark. The Ethiopian traversed the final few kilometres along with Jemima Sumgong and Helah Kiprop of Kenya and Bahrain’s Eunice Kirwa before pulling away in a sprint finish for her country’s first gold in this event.

Kiprop (2:27:36) fetched silver for Kenya while Kirwa (2:27:39) won Bahrain’s first medal in this event in the closest finish ever at the Worlds.

The two Indians, meanwhile, pulled past Kenyan Visiline Jepkesho and China’s Wang Xueqin to make it a successful morning. “It felt nice to finish in front of a Kenyan,” said Sudha. Result: Women’s marathon: Mare Dibaba (Ethiopia) 2:27:35, 1; Helah Kiprop (Kenya) 2:27:36, 2; Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) 2:27:39.

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