New Delhi: G. Laxmanan and Preeja Sreedharan were the best among the Indian men and women athletes at the Delhi Half Marathon which commenced and concluded at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here Sunday morning.
Atsedu Tsegay of Ethiopia registered a new course record to win the men`s race while Kenyan Florence Kiplagat won the women`s title in the $210,000 event, spread across 21.097 km in central New Delhi.
Laxmanan clocked one hour, four minutes and 44 minutes to finish 15th overall but first among Indians to take home Rs.2.5 lakh. Kheta Ram finished second (five seconds behind) to win Rs.2 lakh while Ratti Ram Saini was only two seconds behind Kheta and pocketed Rs.15 lakh for coming third.
It was a photo-finish in the women`s category, having the same prize money as the men, as the top three finished in a span of five seconds with Olympian Preeja (1:20.04), Kavita Raut (1:20.09) and Lalita Babbar (1:20.09).
"It was a very good race and I recorded my best timing as my previous best was one hour and six minutes. I went almost two minutes faster and I am quite glad about it," said Tamil Nadu`s Laxmanan, who is from the Army Sports Institute, Pune.
The top three went to train at Munnar, Kerala, for the race.
Among the women, five girls were together before the top three broke away in the last couple of kilometres.
"I am very happy after the victory. This was my first attempt and I am glad with the result," said the 31-year-old Preeja, who also holds the current 5,000 and 10,000 metres national records.
"I was training in Munnar which is at an altitude and is cold. It helped me acclimatise to cold conditions, otherwise it would have been very difficult for me here. I am not used to cold temperatures because I am from Kerala," added the 10,000m 2010 Asian Games gold medallist.
Kavita, winner here in 2007 and 2008 and also the course record holder, could only come second while 2010 and 2011 winner Lalita finished third. Kavita and Lalita had clinched the same positions last year also.
Defending champion Sudha Singh finished fourth, 16 seconds behind Preeja, who was 15th overall in the race.