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Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2020: Srinu Bugatha aims to break last year's record as he spearheads elite Indian field

Sameer Chhabra
·3 min read

Having triumphed in the elite Indian men's category at last year's Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM), army man Srinivas Bugatha, popularly known as Srinu, will once again be the firm favourite to clinch the gold.

Besides, Srinu is coming on the back of a morale-boosting win (among Indians) in the 2020 Tata Mumbai Marathon, where he clocked 2:18.36 (his personal best).

Ahead of the half-marathon race on 29 November, the army man sounded optimistic, despite a lack of preparation in wake of COVID-19.

"I am feeling positive. This time, I want to break my record from last year (1:04:33). I have participated in the ADHM thrice and I think my experience will come in handy," he told Firstpost in an interaction.

Much like other athletes across India, Srinu's preparations came to a halt due to the COVID-19 enforced lockdown. Still, without dwelling much on the past, he is focusing on improving himself with every passing day.

"I practice in the Army Institute of Sports (AIS), Pune and got a break from there in March. It was only in July that I returned to my institute and began practising. But I haven't prepared a lot. Next year, I am running a full marathon (TMM 2021) and will make sure that I sufficiently prepare for it. But I am also hopeful of winning the ADHM," he said.

The 28-year-old is expected to face stiff competition from the likes of Avinash Sable and Abhishek Pal.

Pal outpaced Sable to emerge as the fastest Indian in the 2018 ADHM. Meanwhile, Sable, a national record holder in the 3000m steeplechase, achieved a momentous feat when he became the first Indian in his discipline to qualify for the Olympics since 1952.

When asked about his toughest contender in the upcoming race, Srinu said that anyone could challenge him on the given day. "Yes, they (Pal and Sable) are good but anyone can challenge me. I can't strictly point out a contender. It won't be fair to underestimate anyone."

The ADHM €" one of the first global sporting events to be hosted by India amid the COVID-19 pandemic €" will take place on Sunday, 29th November. The 16th edition of the event will be divided into the following categories: Half Marathon (Elite), Half Marathon (21.097 km), Open 10 K and Great Delhi Run (5km).

Among the elite international athletes marked as favourites in the men's category are title holder Andamlak Belihu, winner of the 2019 Tata Steel Kolkata 25 km, Leonard Barsoton and Guye Adola, who almost beat Eliud Kipchoge in the 2017 Berlin Marathon on his stupendous marathon debut.

In the women's category, Parul Chaudhary, the winner of the TMM earlier this year, will headline the Indian field alongside Monika Athare and Chinta Yadav. Athare bagged the bronze in this year's TMM while Yadav finished third place in last year's ADHM.

Adding to a star-studded women's field, the ADHM announced the entries of world record holders Brigid Kosgei €" the winner of the last two editions of the London and Chicago Marathon, and Ababel Yeshaneh, who became the fastest half marathon athlete in RAK earlier this year.

The elite runners will be at the start line at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, but this year, amateurs across the world will join from their respective locations via the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon Mobile App.

With COVID-19 in sight, the organisers have promised to set up bio-secure zones to ensure a safe race for the elite runners.

Also See: Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2020: Defending champion Srinu Bugatha to lead strong Indian field

World record holders Brigid Kosgei, Ababel Yeshaneh add to Delhi Half Marathon field

Coronavirus pandemic: England to allow limited spectators to attend sports events

Read more on Sports by Firstpost.