Sotomayor hails Vodafone Delhi Half Marathon

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New Delhi, Oct 24 (UNI) World high jump record holder Javier Sotomayor today hailed the Vodafone Delhi Half Marathon saying, ''It's events like this that will inspire youngsters to take to the sport and become world champions one day.'' Vodafone Delhi race, the World's richest half marathon event, will be held here on October 28.

The Cuban legend, who is the Brand Ambassador of the event, said he felt privileged to be here to promote the event and spoke at length about his world record, missing two Olympics because of political reasons and why his record still stands, even after 14 years.

Asked to dwell on his world record of 2.45, set in 1993 and which still stands, Sotomayor said, ''I was mentally and physically prepared at that time to jump 2.45.

''The conditions were perfect on that day in Salamanca, Spain and I just gave it my all. If not that day, I wold have done the distance somewhere else, but I would have reached that,'' said the 40-year-old champion, still now as lean and fit as in his jumping days.

On why his record still stands, Sotomayor said, ''The standards of high jump have fallen now. In the earlier days there were quite a few jumpers who could do 2.40 m. Hence, I always knew that to win I would have to go over 2.40. Nowadays one doesn't need to jump 2.40 to win competitions, hence the mark was like a mental block for the jumpers.'' On losing out on two Olympics (1984 and 1988) because of boycotts by the Cuban government, Sotomayor said, ''It was frustrating as a sportsman, because I was in top condition and confident of finishing among the medals, but it was political decision and one which we agreed with, hence I just kept training still harder and my efforts paid off in Barcelona, where I won the gold.'' When asked about the reasons why Cuba produces top sportspersons despite not being a rich country, Sotomayor said, ''We have a dedicated sports facility. Children are brought in touch with sports at a young age and this builds up aspirations.'' On a question whether ther were lessons for India from the Cuban experience, he quipped, ''You can use us as coaches.'' The legendary high jumper, who is currently the manager of the Cuban athletic team, was impressed by the arrangements in place for the Vodafone Delhi Half Marathon and was pleased that more than 28,000 people would come on to the streets to take part in the event.

Meanwhile Sotomayor, along with technical director Hugh Jones, unveiled the new route of the Vodafone Delhi Half Marathon. The start finish of the event has shifted from J N Stadium to the Central Secretariat Grounds and hence the new route.

The new route would include some of Delhi's most scenic places including India Gate and Lodhi Gardens without blocking busy roads.

''This route is fast and the surface is good. The weather is clear and on the cooler side and we may see the existing record of 61.36 being lowered,'' said Hugh Jones.

UNI

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