Kolkata, Dec 5: A constellation of stars will assemble at the City of Joy led by the redoubtable Kenensia Bekele in the men’s field and Helah Kiprop and Valentine Kipketer in the women’s as TSK 25K goes international from this year.
Kenenisa Bekele is a legend in his sport and has won over 21 Olympic and World Champion titles and broke 6 senior world records in a front line career of more than eight years, Bekele has won gold at the 10.000m in four straight World Championships. He won double Olympic Gold in Beijing in the 5.000m and 10.000m and repeated that at the Berlin World Championships. Furthermore, he is the first ever and only athlete to be world indoor, outdoor, cross and Olympic champion.
In 2014 he made his marathon debut in Paris winning in 2:05:03. Two years later he shaved exactly two minutes of his personal best by setting a new Ethiopian record of 2:03:03 in Berlin marathon. The form that he has shown in recent months have kept the world of running fingers crossed for he can easily set a world record at this distance here putting Kolkata on the record book.
The men’s flock could see Tanzanian Augustine Sulle emerge as the dark horse for the meet, who after competing in Brazil began his European chapter with a wonderful debut in Amsterdam.
Helah Kiprop will lead the women’s pack, with Valentine Kipketer and young Dibabe Kuma giving her tough competition.
Helah is well-known in India, she was the TCS World 10k Champion in 2012 and she won Cochin Half Marathon in 2013. She is an all-round athlete, holding personal best of 31:44 for 10k, 67:39 for half marathon and 2:21:27 in the marathon. In 2015 she won the silver medal at the World Marathon Championships in Beijing and in 2016 she won the prestigious Tokyo marathon. She took third places in last year’s Delhi half marathon and this year’s Bangalore 10k.
“The first three editions of the Tata Steel Kolkata 25km cultivated a domestic field but offered no incentives for international elite runners to participate. That has changed dramatically with the fourth edition to be held on 17 December with a host of top-ranked athletes contesting the race. Foremost among them is multiple world record holder Kenenisa Bekele who was the world’s fastest Marathon runner in 2016 only five seconds shy of the world record. It’s hard to see who in the men’s field could challenge him but the up and coming Tanzanian, Augustine Sulle might,” said Hugh Jones, Race Director. TSK25K.
“The women’s event, by contrast, has no standout favourite but is packed with seasoned campaigners still at the top of their game. Helah Kiprop has run many times in India and Valentine Kipketer won the Mumbai Marathon when she was a youngster and has since improved her marathon best significantly,” he added.
The elite field showcases a clash between the powerhouses in long distance running as all East African countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Eritrea and Tanzania are represented in the festival. There is also participation from Italy and South Africa.