Defending champion Srinu Bugatha and an in-form runner Sanjivani Jadhav will lead a strong Indian Elite line-up in their respective men’s and women’s category at the 2022 Tata Steel Kolkata 25K to be held on Sunday.
The seventh edition of the USD 100,000 prize event, which will take place after a gap of two years, will attract a strong field of Indian runners alongside International stars. Srinu, who will aim to defend his Indian Elite men’s title, is well aware of the conditions in the city.
“I am very much confident to defend my title. This race will help me prepare for the Mumbai marathon. It takes really hard work to be a distance runner. I divide my work on daily and weekly basis. These races take a long time to prepare. Efforts of months and years go into making a distance runner. Keeping in mind our body, mind, we have to prepare accordingly,” Srinu said on the eve of the race.
Srinu is in good form and has recently finished third among Indians in the Vedanta Delhi Half Marathon in October. From the paddy fields of Gajapathinagaram in Vizianagaram (Andhra Pradesh) to the streets of Kolkata, Srinu has come a long way. But he has made Paris his next target.
“I have to break the national record to have a chance to run in Paris. My target is full marathon that is 42kms. I will give my best and look to better the national record which will give me a ticket to Paris Olympics,” a very focussed Srinu said.
But the Andhra lad has his hands full as he will be challenged in every step by Amethi born Abhishek Pal.
The Indian Railways employee, Abhishek was the Indian Elite winner at this year’s TCS World 10K Bengaluru in May and also went on to win the 5,000m gold at the National Games and the 10,000 m gold at the National inter-state athletics championships.
“Training has been quite well. This will be my third time I will race in Kolkata. So, winning here will be special here. Next year I will look at doing well in Asian Games and World Championship,” Abhishek said.
“5000 and 10,000 will be my target for the Olympics. So, I will look to do well from now on so that I can achieve my dream,” he added.
On the other hand, the Indian female elite field will be led by Sanjivani Baburao Jadhav who will be look to end the year on a successful note. She has won the Indian women’s category of the World’s prestigious Vedanta Delhi Half Marathon and the 10,000m gold at the Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championship.
“Training and preparations has been good and I want to do well here. The Fed Cup win will surely help me and give me a lot of confidence. This will be my first time I will run here in Kolkata. So, it will be special for me if I can win the title. I have participated in all Procam marathons, in Delhi, Mumbai and I have been successful in all,” the Nashik born athlete said.
Sanjivani will be tested by another quality Indian runner Prajakta Godbole.
Last week, she has finished the Half Marathon at Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation Marathon where she finished second. “Preparations are going good for me. I am confident of doing well here. I was struggling a bit with injury in my leg. I hope I can give my best tomorrow and injuries and troubles will be far away from me. I have recently been in Vasai Virar and Patna, so I hope I will implement those performances tomorrow,” Prajakta signed off.