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'Tough for Indians to qualify for Paris Olympics': Marathon runner Gopi T

Gopi Thonakal will look to break the 46-year-old national record and qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics at the New Delhi Marathon.

Tough for Indians to qualify for Paris Olympics: Marathon runner Gopi T

Indian elite marathon runner Gopi Thonakal.


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 24 Feb 2024 12:29 PM GMT

Indian elite marathon runner Gopi Thonakal thinks that it would be difficult for the Indians to make it to the 2024 Paris Olympics as the qualifying time for the Marathon is almost beyond their reach.

The qualifying time for Marathon at Paris Olympics is 2:08:10 which is beyond the 46-year-old national record.

"This qualifying timing (of the Paris Olympics) is very tough for Indian marathon runners. We are hoping to get through (the Olympics) via rankings where an average is calculated from five competitions over around two years," Gopi told PTI ahead of the New Delhi Marathon, an Olympic qualifying event.

"I am hoping to run my personal best here in Delhi. I am perfectly fit now though I had less time for training after the Mumbai Marathon (in January)," he added further.

The Paris Olympics marathon qualifying window is from November 6, 2022, to May 5, 2024, and 80 athletes will compete in the 42.195km event. But there is no Indian listed so far in the World Athletics' Road to Paris chart.

Former Asian Champion Gopi has a personal best of 2:13.39 and he qualified for the Rio Olympics in 2016 when the qualifying time was 2:19. The qualifying time was 2:11:30 for the Tokyo Olympics before the World Athletics made it 2:08:10 this time.

Asked if he could break the national record of 2:12.00, which has been in the name of Shivnath Singh since 1978, Gopi said, "Yes, why not? I can try for the national record. I have been trying for that but I had faced problems in the last 10km (of the 42.195km race) or so in two or three events earlier."

"Otherwise, the national record would have been broken earlier." He said the national record will ultimately fall in the next few years.

His main rivals on Sunday will be 2021 edition winner Srinu Bugatha (PB: 2:14:59) and Anish Thapa (PB: 2:16:41). Last edition's top-two finishers, Man Singh and Belliappa AB, both Hangzhou Asian Games participants, are missing this time.

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