Mumbai: India’s army men have dominated the Indian athletes section of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon. Names like Ram Singh Yadav, Binning Lyngkhoi, Elam Singh and KC Ramu are synonymous with success at the annual city event. However, the man behind this glory has preferred to stay in the backdrop. The army’s chief distance-running coach, KS Mathew is low profile even in his final association with the Mumbai Marathon.
Army chief coach KS Mathew
Mathew (52), who retires from service on March 31, is sure his boys will deliver the goods again this Sunday. “We’ve been doing some high altitude training in Ooty and Ranikhet (near Nainital) and my boys are raring to go. Binning and Elam are training under a Cuban coach at the Army Sports Institute, Pune,” Mathew told MiD DAY from Jabalpur.
Last year, Binning, (2:21:51 sec), Ashish Singh (2:23:05 sec) and Elam (2:23:09 sec) won gold, silver and bronze respectively, and Mathew believes the three medals will be won again, but by a different set of army men this time. Mathew picks a new favourite for this weekend — Sanvroo Yadav. He feels four-time champion Ram Singh (2007, 2008, 2009, 2012) and three-time winner Binning (2010, 2011, 2013) are not in peak form.
Mumbai’s new champion? Indian army’s Sanvroo Yadav wins the Vasai-Virar Mayor’s Marathon in November last year
“Sanvroo, who won the Vasai-Virar Mayor’s Marathon in October last year is my favourite to win on Sunday. The weather then was not very favourable and so his timing (2:27:27 seconds) was not great, but he pipped Binning to the gold there. This is his first Mumbai Marathon and the weather in Mumbai around this time is good, so he should win.
“Ram Singh was unfortunate to miss out on the Mumbai Marathon last year as he had to attend a felicitation function in New Delhi as part of the Army Day celebrations. He was in top form last year and would have won in Mumbai. This time though, both Binning and he are not in top form. Ram Singh also suffered a knee injury two weeks ago, but has fully recovered now.
Two good: Ram Singh Yadav (left) and Binning Lyngkhoi
We have some other good young runners too like Rishpal Singh and Arjun Ram, who won gold and bronze at the Allahabad Marathon last year,” explained Mathew, who has already drawn up his retirement plan. “I want to open a high altitude training centre for middle and long distance running near Ooty, a few hours away from my home in Kerala.”
Mathew is content with his achievements. “I have served the army for 34 years. I began as a sepoy and my most recent promotion was last year, as Lieutenant. I’m also expecting a promotion this year on January 26 as Captain. I think I have served the nation enough and now it’s time to hang up my boots,” he signed off.