Will aim for glory at Rio Olympics: Lalita

Mumbai, Jan 15 (IANS) Indian long distance runner Lalita Babar on Friday said she will be competing in the women’s 3,000 metres steeplechase at the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, also adding that the Mumbai Marathon will give her the much needed confidence ahead of the Games.

India’s biggest names among distance runners, Nitendra Singh Rawat, O.P. Jaisha and Babbar, among others are all set for the Mumbai Marathon here on Sunday.

Among the women athletes running the marathon are Jaisha from Kerala who is the current national record holder for her performance at the 2015 Mumbai Marathon.

Lalita is the current national record holder in the women’s 3000m steeplechase. The Central Railways athlete is a three-time winner of the Mumbai Marathon.

Sudha Singh, a consistent performer in steeplechase events, was an Asian Games gold medallist in 2010. She was also the winner in Mumbai in 2014 in the half marathon category and was the runner-up at the Delhi Half Marathon in the same year.

Last year’s half marathon champion Kavita Raut will return this year to try her luck in the full marathon.

“At the Olympics, my target is to run for the 3,000m steeplechase. I want to concentrate on the 3000m steeplechase and want to win medals in the Olympics. To do well in the Olympics, I have to give my best in the Mumbai Marathon,” Lalita said in a press conference here.

The 26-year-old said she has been training in Ooty for almost two years to sharpen her skills. Her gold medal at the Asian Championships in Wuhan, China, this year helped her qualify comfortably for the Olympics.

“For the past one year and 10 months I have been training in Ooty and the preparations have been good for the marathon. In Ooty we have been running 230 kilometres per week. I am running in the marathon to sharpen my skills in the race but my main target is the Olympics,” she said.

Lalita also stressed that the hot and humid weather here can pose a challenge for the Indian runners who were training in high altitude for the past couple of months.

“But with the hot and humid weather in Mumbai, I wish the race gets over before noon so that we can give out best in the race,” she said.

On the other hand, O.P. Jaisha looked confident in her approach but stressed that 5000 metre and 1500 metre is what she will be gunning for in the upcoming days post the Marathon.

“I am running Marathon but my aim is 5000 metre and 1500 metre. I want to use this Marathon to get my skills on right track and do well ahead and my target is Olympics,” Jaisha said.

“All athletes are training well and we have to put in our best performance to come out victorious. I think training for more than a year in Ooty will help us in Marathon and days to come. In Ooty we have been running 230 km per week,” she said.

The cut-off mark to qualify for Marathon in Olympics is two hours 19 minutes for men and two hours 45 minutes for women.

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