Tsehay Gemechu smashed the course record while compatriot Andamalak Belihu overcame stiff competition in the men’s elite field as the Ethiopian duo raced to top honours of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in New Delhi on Sunday. It was a first-time victory at the course for both the winners. Gemechu clocked 1:06:50, four seconds better than the earlier women’s course record of 1:06:54, which had been in the name of Kenya’s Mary Keitany since 2009.
Current women’s half marathon world record holder, Joyciline Jepkosgei clinched the silver medal completing the race at 1:06:56. Zeineba Yimer of Ethiopia grabbed the last spot on the podium with a time of 1:06:59. Along with the winner’s cheque of USD 27,000, Gemechu will take home an additional USD 10,000 for setting a new course record.
Tirunesh Dibaba, the greatest ever woman distance runner in the world with three Olympic, five World Championship gold medals in 5000m and 10,000m, had a forgettable race as fatigue caught up with her as she strayed from the pack from the beginning. Belihu, who finished second last year, improved on his personal best clocking 59:18 seconds. However, he was unable to break the course record which still stands in the name of Ethiopia’s Guye Adola, set in 2014.
Walelegn clinched the silver ending the race with a time of 59:22 seconds. While Kenya’s Daniel Kipchumba grabbed the third spot clocking 59:48 seconds. Among the Indians, Abhishek Pal won the the men’s race clocking 1:4:14 seconds. Avinash Sable grabbed the silver with a timing of 1:04:14, while Asian marathon champion Gopi T claimed the third spot on the podium finishing at 1:04:15.
Youngster Sanjivani Jadhav was the best Indian in the women’s elite field finishing with a time of 1:13:58. Parul Chaudhary and Monika Athare finished second and third respectively.