Mumbai: Many would have been surprised to see Karan Singh emerge as the fastest Indian among men at the Standard Chartered Mumbai marathon yesterday, but not KS Mathew.
Fans cheer army man Karan Singh on the homestretch before he finishes as the fastest Indian at the Mumbai Marathon yesterday. Pic/Shadab Khan
The army’s chief distance running coach was a proud man as not one but two of his young wards clinched top honours at the Mumbai Marathon yesterday. Karan (2:24:08) and Rashpal Singh (2:24:38) finished ahead of veteran Binning Lyngkhoi (2:24:40), much to the joy of Mathew, who is all set to retire from the services on March 31 this year following a mammoth 34-year stint with the men in uniform.
“The Mumbai marathon till date has always seen our senior army runners like Ram Singh Yadav, Binning, KC Ramu or even Elam Singh do well, but this time youngsters like Karan and Rashpal have risen to the occasion. I feel proud and satisfied to be leaving my position now because I know that the future of the army’s distance running team is very bright,” Matthew told MiD DAY yesterday. Karan Singh was awarded Rs 5,00,000 for his effort, while Rashpal and Binning were richer by Rs 4,00,000 and Rs 3,00,000 respectively.
Army coach KS Mathew (left) and Mumbai Marathon’s second-fastest Indian Rashpal Singh
“Both Karan and Rashpal are between 24 and 25 years old and that is the age where athletes begin running marathons. However, these boys are winning marathons at this age — Rashpal won gold at the Allahabad Marathon last year. This means they have matured early,” added Mathew, who trains Rashpal at the 1 Signal Training centre in Jabalpur, while Karan trains at the Army Sports Institute in Pune.
Finally, Mathew predicted a stern test when the Mumbai Marathon serves as a qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics in two years time. “While Ram Singh and Binning cannot be written off, Karan, Rashpal and other youngsters will also be hungry to grab that qualification spot. It will be very interesting to see who qualifies for the Rio Olympics marathon,” he signed off.