Mumbai Marathon: Sudha Singh, Srinu Buhatha sizzle
Defending champion Sudha Singh wins on return from injury to record a hat-trick of victories in Mumbai, while army man Srinu Buhatha claims gold on debut.
The experienced Sudha Singh, 33, made a remarkable comeback from an injury lay-off by strolling to a third successive victory and fourth overall, winning the Indian women's crown in the 17th edition of the Tata Mumbai Marathon on Sunday.
Lalita Babar had also completed a hat-trick of triumphs, winning in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Defending champion Sudha, who suffered a fracture in her left thigh in September, was competing in her first race after recovery. And despite running at a steady pace, her effort was good enough to beat the rest of the field to win gold, crossing the finish line in 2:45:30, way below her course record of 2:34:56 set last year. Having finished seventh overall in 2017 and 2019 and eighth last year, she could only manage 31st place this time.
Two-time champion, Jyoti Gawate was unable to keep pace with Sudha, who broke in front at the 23-km mark. Gawate settled for silver, finishing almost five minutes behind the leader, clocking 2:49:14. Shyamali Singh, who was a runner-up in 2017, picked up the bronze, clocking 2:58:44.
Meanwhile among the Indian men, Srinu Buhatha of Army Sports Institute (Pune) made a memorable debut by winning gold. Srinu, who was led by pacers Michael Mutai and Mathew Kibarus both from Kenya, picked up pace at the 33km stage and maintained it till the finish, clocking 2:18:44. His time was much slower than the course record of 2:15:48 set by fellow army man, Nitendra Singh Rawat in 2016. Srinu was placed 13th overall behind elite marathon champion Derara Hurisa of Ethiopia.
Sher Singh, who was participating in the Mumbai event for the first time, took the silver (2:24:00) while Durga Bahadur Budha, another Army Sports Institute athlete clinched the bronze (2:24:03).
It was a confidence-boosting win for Sudha, who has now won four titles, the most by an Indian woman at the Mumbai Marathon. She had earlier won gold in 2016, 2018 and 2019. "I did not go flat out but just tried to do my best and surprisingly it worked in my favour. The initial weather was more suitable this time, but later the humidity was tough and affected our timings. I want to thank my coach, Bijendra Singh, for his help during the training sessions," a satisfied Sudha said.
ASI athlete Srinu felt he could have done better. "I am not satisfied as I could have got a better timing. I was tiring and my pace dropped at the last kilometre," he said. Both Sudha and Srinu were richer by R5 lakh each, while silver medalists Jyoti and Sher Singh received R4 lakh each and bronze winners Shyamali and Durga Bahadur pocketed Rs 3 lakh each.
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