New Delhi: Binning Lyngkhoi and Sukanya Mall, added a second Mawana Sugars Indian Open Marathon title to their list, as they beat a strong field in both sections in perfect conditions on Sunday morning. In the race that started and finishing at the iconic India Gate, the two pre-race favourites kept their billing intact.
The 25-year-old Army Man, Lyngkhoi, who hails from Meghalaya, but trained in Army Institute in Pune, won the marathon in two hours 18 minutes 49 seconds, which was just outside the London Olympics ‘B’ qualifying mark of 2:18.
Lyngkhoi’s earlier win in the Mawana Sugars Indian Open marathon, came in 2008 edition. Sukanya’s first win in Indian open marathon came in 2010.
The race was flagged off by two of India’s athletic greats. PT Usha, India’s best-known and most successful women’s athlete ever, and Praveen Kumar, a former Asian Games discus throw medalist, flagged off the race, which had more than 9,000 starters in various categories and distances.
Lyngkhoi, who won a marathon in Mumbai in mid-January, made it two wins in two months. However he finished more than a minute clear of second placed Arvind Kumar Yadav, who clocked 2:20:02 and in the third place was another Army Man, Oinam Singh 2:20:11.
Like Lyngkhoi, it was also Sukanya Mall’s second win in Mawana Marathon. The 20-year-old from Deoria, who has won numerous road races, grabbed the women’s marathon title in 2:48:25, but she also missed out on the Olympic ‘B’ qualifying mark of 2:43. Though Sukanya also won in 2010, she was more than 10 minutes faster this time.
Just as it happened in 2010, it was once again L Preet Rao in the second place in 2:56:05 and Anisha Devi was third in 2:59:04.
“It is nice to see Binning and Sukanya return to their winning ways. They performed very well and I wish them all the best as the season progresses. Both have great potential and I am sure they will win many laurels in their career,” said Mr. Siddharth Shriram, Chairman, Mawana Sugars Limited. “The marathon is one of the numerous events we sponsor an support at the National level. We have also supported women’s golf at the amateur level and we wish to ensure that we provide more opportunities to women sportspersons, too.”
Multiple gold medalist at Asian Games, PT Usha, said, “It is great that distance runners, who have to put in a lot of hard work are getting such good prizes. This will help them in training and also motivate them to give even better performances.”
Asha Aggarwal, a former Asian Championship gold medalist in 1985, the year Usha won five gold medals in the Asian meet in Jakarta, continued her tryst with running and won the veterans half marathon for women in one hour 54 minutes and two seconds. “It was great meeting Usha once again. We have been teammates in the past and been to many international competitions together. She ran the shorter races and I competed in long distance.”
There were more than 5,000 spectators on what was a perfect day for a marathon with nice cool weather, which gave way to a very soothing sun later on. Lyngkhoi said, “The weather was just right and we had a good time and the arrangement was excellent.”
Both Lyngkhoi and Sukanya received Rs. 2.5 lakhs each and Mawana sugar cubes equivalent to their weight.
The runners started from India Gate and turned from Park Hotel crossing onto Parliament Street to come back to India Gate for each loop measuring 10.5 kilometres. There were four loops for a full marathon and two for the half marathon.
Over the years the Group has supported women’s sport in a big way. Group Company Usha sponsors the Indian Golf Union’s Women’s Amateur events, including the All India Ladies Amateurs and last year they sponsored the Asia-Pacific championships, the Queen Sirikit Cup, when it was held in India. It also sponsored the Indian team.
The event was conducted by the officials of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and the Delhi State Athletics Association, and the Delhi Traffic Police provided traffic arrangements.