Singh, the assistant coach of the distance-runners at the Centre under chief coach KS Mathew, felt a “tension-free” Ram Singh, who qualified for the London Olympics by winning last year’s Mumbai Marathon in 2:16:59 seconds, will be more lethal this time.
“For any athlete, the Olympics is the ultimate stage and Ram Singh worked tirelessly last year with the sole aim of making it to the Games through the Mumbai Marathon. He was under a lot of pressure then to finish under the 2-hour 18-minute Olympic qualifying mark. This time though, with the all-important Olympian aim achieved, he’ll be running tension-free, and that makes him more dangerous,” Singh told MiD DAY from Bambolim in Goa, where the army has set up a training camp for its Mumbai Marathon participants.
In the 2008 edition of the event, Ram Singh was ecstatic after Suresh Kalmadi announced that he had made the cut for the Beijing Games having clocked a 2:18:23-second finish. Later however, it was learnt that he had missed the bus by three seconds with the ‘B’ qualification mark for Beijing being 2:18:20. The armyman was shattered but picked himself up and four years later made it to London through the Mumbai race becoming only the second armyman after Shivnath Singh (1976, Montreal) to qualify for the Olympic marathon event.
However, many felt that London was a disappointment for Ram Singh, given his 78th-place finish with a timing of 2:30:06 seconds. Singh contested this view.
“Critics feel Ram Singh did poorly in London, but what they don’t realise is that he didn’t go there to win. It will be some time before we can even think of beating the Kenyans and Ethiopians in distance-running. He went there to merely better his Mumbai mark. He went all out for that and unfortunately may have over-done it a bit in the first half of the race and so ended up with a 2:30,” said Yadav.
However, no such errors are expected from his ward this time, said the coach. “Ram Singh knows the Mumbai course like the back of his hand having run here a few times. And going by his training timings, he should comfortably clock a sub-2:20 time which should be enough for gold,” Singh signed off.