Indian runners at Mumbai marathon aim for Olympics entry

Mumbai: The Indian Army trio of Binning Lyngkhoi, best Indian finisher among men in the last edition, highly experienced Ram Singh Yadav and Angad Singh is targeting a berth in the Olympics when they take the field on Sunday at the eighth Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon here.

"The weather is cool and good performance could be achieved in good climate. We will try our best. We have prepared hard for the event at the Pune Army Institute," Lyngkhoi told reporters during an interaction here on Friday.

"Last year, the weather was very hot, making it difficult for us to give a good performance. Besides, we could not get water at many points. Even some Kenyans couldn`t complete their race and a few even collapsed," he said.

Lyngkhoi, who missed the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games due to viral fever, said he was fit now and raring to go.

"I have been training for this event since November at the Army Sports Institute in Pune. I ran about 200km a week as part of the training. A target of below 2hrs:18 mins has been set for us by the coach and we will run with the aim of 2012 Olympic qualification," he added.

The Meghalaya runner opined that the mark would have been easier to achieve if the timing of the marathon is re- scheduled by an hour.

"The marathon generally begins at 7.40 am. As a result we have less opportunity to run in the cool weather as temperature gradually increases. It would be easier for us if the marathon started at 6.30-7.00 am."

Top Indian finisher in the Delhi Commonwealth Games Yadav, who has just recovered from a hamstring injury, said he was fit and confident of completing the 42.1-km stretch.

"With some luck, I may churn out a good performance." Yadav, who achieved a timing of 2hrs: 21minutes in the Commonwealth Games, said if the Indians failed to achieve the sub 2hrs:18 minutes mark in the marathon, they will try again at three-four other events later in the year.

"Our coach has identified three-four events for us. We will start preparing for those events two-three months later. However, the events are yet to be confirmed," said the runner, who will be participating in his third marathon in four months after the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

Meanwhile, asserting that achieving the Olympic qualification would be the first target, Angad drew attention to the plight of the Indian runners during the previous edition of the marathon, when the iconic Bandra-Worli Sea Link became a part of the race-route for the first time.

"We didn`t get any water on the sea link. Even at points where it was supposed to be, the stock was all exhausted. When we were on our way back on the route, we had to struggle as the water was used up by all the other runners. In fact, Ram Singh Yadav had to snatch water from some people during the race," he said.

Indian team`s conditioning coach Umesh Singh said failure of the organisers to control the participants of other parallel races like the `Dream Run` from coming in the way of Indian athletes, too, affected their performance.

Top Indian female finisher last year Shastri Devi expressed confidence of repeating the performance.