Yesterday's announcement made by Athletics Federation of India president Adille Sumariwalla that the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon will be the pre-qualification event for the Beijing World Championships in August, has infused new confidence among the Indian elite athletes.

Lalita Babar, Ratti Ram Saini, Karan Singh, OP Jaisha and Rashpal Singh
Indian elite athletes (left to right) Lalita Babar, Ratti Ram Saini, Karan Singh, OP Jaisha and Rashpal Singh at a press conference ahead of Sunday's Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon. Pic/Bipin Kokate.

The cut-off qualification for the men is two hours and 18 minutes, while it is two hours and 44 minutes for women. An added boost was the announcement made by co-sponsors of the event — Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), that they will sponsor the top two Indian finishers in both men’s and women’s full marathons here a trip to the TCS New York City Marathon in November.

Last edition’s top Indian finishers among men — Karan Singh of Army Sports Institute, Pune said that he wants to
better his timing, while his female counterpart Lalita Babar is eager to compete with the Kenyans and the Ethiopians come Sunday.

“It is definitely a great opportunity for me to qualify for the World Championships. If I get a chance to go to New York, that will be an added bonus. Right now, my sole aim is to finish under 2 hours, 18 minutes,” said Singh who clocked his personal best timing of 2 hours 22 minutes and 30 seconds at the De Lage Landen Marathon Eindhoven in the Netherlands in October 2014.

Meanwhile, Babar the Incheon Asian Games bronze medallist in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, said the NY trip is the stuff of dreams: “It’s a dream (to go to New York) and for that I will do well in Mumbai. I will work very hard to win here,” she said.