Staff Reporter –
A strong Indian Elite field led by Asian Games Silver-Medallist Kartik Kumar and Olympian & former Asian Marathon Champion Gopi Thonakal along with the in-form Tamsi Singh will challenge an exciting international line-up in what promises to be an enthralling action at the much-awaited 2023 Tata Steel Kolkata 25K to be held on Sunday, December 17.
#AamarKolkataAamarRun will witness some of India’s best athletes take centre stage at the eighth edition of the US $100,000 prize money race. With equal prize money for the Indian Elite men and women winners, the first three in each race stand to win INR 2,75,000, 2,00,000 and INR 1,50,000/- respectively. The Indian Elite men and women runners will also be further incentivised by an Event Record Bonus of INR 1,00,000/- each.
Long-distance runner Kartik, who bagged silver in the men’s 10,000m race at the 2022 Asian Games, will be the one to watch out for in the Indian Elite Men’s race. By achieving this feat at the Asian Games, the 24-year-old became the first Indian to win a medal in the 10,000m event, since Gulab Chand in 1998.
Since the last two years, Kartik has been at the peak of his career and also in sublime form. He has been dominating the Half Marathon field by finishing as runner-up among Indians with a timing of 1:04:08 at the Vedanta Delhi Half Marathon in 2023 before winning the Indian Elite crown at the Vedanta Delhi Half Marathon in 2022 with his personal best timing of 1:04:00. In the same year, he also finished as Runners-up among Indians at the TCS World 10K Bengaluru.
Challenging Kartik in every step will be another champion runner and experienced Gopi T. The 35-year-old Olympian, the first Indian to win the Asian Marathon Championship crown in 2017 in China with a timing of 2:15:48. The same year, he bagged the New Delhi Marathon crown with timing of 2:15:37. The next year in 2018, Gopi defended his crown, by winning the New Delhi Marathon with an even better timing of 2:15:16. Recently in October 2023, he took part in the TCS Amsterdam Marathon and finished with 2:14:58.
Besides Kartik and Gopi T, Asian Games Bronze-medallist Gulveer Singh is also ready to shine. The 25-year-old bagged a bronze in the men’s 10,000m race at the 2022 Asian Games with a timing of 28:17.21. He narrowly missed out on another medal at the Games after finishing fourth in the 5000m race. He also bagged the National Games crown in Gujarat 2022 in 10,000m with timing of 28:54.29. At the 2023 National Games in Bambolim last month, he finished third in the 10,000m race.
With three in-form and experienced runners in Kartik, Gopi and Gulveer, we can expect the Indian field to give tough competition to the International Elite runners.
The current event record, in the Indian Elite Men’s category, stands in the name of Avinash Sable with a timing of 1:15:17 and the Indian Elite Women’s record in the name of L. Suriya with a timing of 1:26:53.
Tamsi Singh will start as a favourite for the Indian women’s honours and will be looking to sign off a successful year on a high, having won the Indian women’s category at the TCS World 10K Bengaluru 2023 with a timing of 00:34:12. She also finished fifth among Indian women’s elite field at the Vedanta Delhi Half Marathon in 2023 with a timing of 1:18:01.
Challenging Tamsi will be Ekta Rawat, who finished eighth among Indian women’s elite field at the Vedanta Delhi Half Marathon in 2023 with a timing of 1:21:30.
Another talented runner, Nirma Thakur, who finished fourth among Indian women’s elite runners last year at TSK 25K with a timing of 1:39:48 will be one to watch out for, keeping in mind her familiarity with the course. She is expected to give a tough test to Tamsi and Ekta.
The World Athletics Elite Label Road Race and the only AIMS-accredited 25K course, is carefully crafted to take in some of the city’s majestic sights – Eden Gardens, Victoria Memorial, Park Street, Vidya Sagar Setu, James Prinsep Ghat, Fort Williams Golf with the start and end at the iconic Red Road.
The international list features some of the biggest names in the sport, headlined by 10K world record-holder Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw in the women’s category and two-time world championship silver medallist Kenyan Daniel Simiyu Ebenyo in the men’s category.
Thakor Nirmaben Bharatjee