Pune, Nov 25 (UNI) In a bid to reaffirm their overwhelming dominance, a crack 28-member Kenyan squad, comprising four past winners, will be matching their skills in the Vodafone 22nd Pune International Marathon, to be flagged off here on December 2.
The Pune event, considered to be the oldest, offers a whooping total prize money in the country. The indomitable Kenyans have scripted the win on seven occasions, while their women did them proud three times in the past.
The Pune International Marathon Trust (PIMT) secretary general Pralhad Sawant, who was also the joint secretary of the Athletic Federation of India (AFI), in a press release here today, said the four past winners -- Ambrose Makau 2002 (2:23;26), Douglas Guandaru 2004 (2:21:22). Josephat Ndeti 2005 (2:19:35) and the 2004 women's champion Jane Muia (1:11;59) -- will certainly draw on their past experience concerning the route and the prevailing weather conditions are advantageous to them. The Kenyan team consists of 19 men and 9 women athletes, who were expected to give the run for the money's worth to the best.
The PIMT's organising committee, which met under the chairmanship of Suresh Kalmadi (MP) who was also the president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), decided to allot elite status to 55 foreign athletes from 14 countries. The rest 17 would be selected on their personal performances, the release stated.
The sizeable Kenyan participation in the Pune event would certainly benefit the Indian marathoners who have set their sight on the Beijing Olympics qualifying mark of 2:18.
A 12-member Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) squad who had been training at the city-based Army Sports Institute (ASI) for the past six months, will certainly pose a challenge to the foreigners and their domestic counterparts the Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSCB). The RSCB are presently training at the SAI Centre in Bangalore under the Russian coach. The Indians, after the 1980 Moscow Olympics, now stand a good chance to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the release added.
The Kenyan contingent for full marathon (42.195 kms): (Men): Josepath Ndeti (2::11:37), Francis Kakui (2:13:00), Douglas Guandrau (2:13:20), Ambrose Makau (2:18:00), Rashid Mutisya (2:15), Peter Mutisya and Philip Muia (2:15), Joseph Kithuka (2:14), Ernest Kipruto Kibor (2:18:12), Victor Kitrono Kimeli (2:18), Jonah Kipsang Chepkoi (2 :13:13), Philip Kipchumba Samoei (2:18), Lawrence Mibithi and John Mutai (2:11:19), David Kuino (2:11), Erick Kiplagat (2:14), Zak Kihara (2:13), Elkana Machuka (2:12), Eston Nyaga (Timming not available).
Women: (Half Marathon): Lilian Chichelimo (72 mts 40 secs), Jane Muia (71.59), Helen Musyoka (73.20), Paulin Mutwa (74.10), Agress Katone (73.00), Kathy Matwa (71.00).