Beijing, Aug 17 (UNI) National champion Surender Singh ran a below par 10,000m race and fell by the wayside as he clocked a below par 28:13.97 as Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele set up a new Olympic record while retaining the gold in the track and field competition here today.
The Indian Army man finished 26th among the 35 finishers and struggled throughout the race which was started by a pack of 39 runners.
It was indeed a disappointing show from the 32-year-long distance runner, who had created a sensation this year by bettering Hari Chand's 32-year-old national record in the 10,000 metres. He bettered that further while qualifying for the Olympics, timing 28:02.89 in Vigo, Spain. But tonight, when it mattered the most, he flopped.
He was more than 11 seconds off his personal best (28:02.89).
Surender continued the trend set by Vikas Gowda, Harwant Kaur (discus), Krishna Poonia, Preeja Sreedharan (heptathletes), JJ Shobha, Susmita Singha Roy and Pramila, who all have given below par performances in this competition.
All these athletes had performed much better as per their results, before coming here.
The runner from Chamoli, Uttrakhand came here eyeing a top-10 finish in the 25-lap race but realised that running in training events and in Olympics are two hugely different ball games.
In a field which included apart from Bekele his compatriots, Haile Gebrerselassie and Silehi Sihine, Ahmed Hassan Abdullaha of Qatar, Kenya's Micah Kogo, the Indian found himself out of place.
He ran two laps in the company of the leaders but once the pack started opening up, Surender found himself in a block of no hopers.
The only good thing the armyman achieved was that he finished the race though without any distinction.
Ethiopia's Silesshi Sihine with 27.02.77 took the silver while Kenya's Micah Kogo came third in 27:04.11, which was his season's best timing.
Surender, before coming here had said,''The Asian athletes will be familiar with the hot conditions while the Europeans may struggle.
My aim is a top-10 finish.'' But all his hopes and dreams lay shattered on the tracks of this magnificent Bird's Nest stadium.
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