New Delhi, Nov 9 (UNI) Ethiopia's Deriba Merga scorched the course to register a new meet record, while Sandeep Kumar emerged as the fastest Indian men with a new national record clocking 64:53 seconds at the Delhi Half Marathon here today.
Derbia completed the 21km long route in just 59:15sec to win the Half marathon and en-route eclipsed Dieudonne Disi's course record of 60:43sec which he created last year. Kenya's Wilson Kipsang (59:16) and Wilson Chebet (59:34sec) finished second and third respectively.
While Deriba, who finished fourth at the Beijing Olympics this year, pocketed 25,000 dollars, the first and second runners up were awarded 15,000 dollars and 10,000 dollars respectively.
''I am very happy to take home this title and I hope next year would come again to and defend my title successfully,'' said Derbia whose personal best before this was 59:16 which he clocked during the IAAF road race in Udine, Itlay in 207 to finish fourth.
The Ethiopian was given a tough competition from Kipsang who missed the title position by just one second and the time difference separating the first and second was just one second.
''Yes, I had a chance but still if you consider from where I came from in the race, it is satisfying,'' Kipsang said.
However, amongst the Indians, Sandeep Kumar left behind all his fancied compatriots to take home a cheque of 4,000 dollars to finish first and was 20 th in the overall race. Sandeep clocked 64:53sec, while Kashinath (64:58) finished second and Deep Chand (65:07) secured the third position.
Defending champion Ram Singh Yadav and Surender Singh, who clocked an astonishing timing of 28:02:89 seconds to finish fourth in the Spanish Olympic trials at Vigo, helping him qualify for the Beijing Olympics, could not make it a memorable event here this year. Surender clocked 65:31sec to finish fifth in the race.
''It's a great feeling to win the race here and yes, now I am aiming for the 2010 Commonwealth Games which will also be held here in Delhi,'' Sandeep said minutes after he finished his race.
''I basically run in marathons. I won Gold in the Nationals at Kochi,'' added Sandeep who failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics this year.
Second runner-up among the Indians and 23rd overall, Deep Chand owed his success to his hard work and said, ''My training at the Army Sports Institute (ASI) in Pune paid well and this year I participated in two marathons.'' Among the Indian women, defending champion Kavita Raut once again proved her mettle and romped home in 77:12sec, while the 10,000m record holder Preetha L Rao finished second (77:20sec). Sudha Singh (77:39sec) took home a sum of 2,000 dollars finishing third among the Indian women.
A jubilated Kavita said, ''It is a pleasing victory and it was only in the last 500mts that I took the lead,'' and added, ''the last time I participated in a half Marathon was in Delhi and I am happy to win this event for the second consecutive time.'' Aselefech Mergia (68:17) of Ethiopia took the pole position in the overall half marathon for women, while her compatriot Genet Getenet was a second behind her to finish second in the race.
Kenya's Peninah Arusei made sure that the crowd witnessed a close finish in the women's category as she clocked 68:20sec to reach the finish line and was third among the girls.
''It was good to win here even though I had some pain in my right leg. It still paid off to run with some aggression and caution,'' Aselefech said.
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