Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi.
The 2016 Rio Olympics ended on a positive note for India as runners Thanackal Gopi and Kheta Ram produced personal best performances to finish 25th and 26th in the men’s marathon, respectively. Gopi Thanackal finished with a time of 2:15:25 exactly a second ahead of compatriot Kheta Ram, who ended up in the 26th spot. India’s third runner in the marathon, Nitendra Singh, finished 84th in the competition that saw 155 athletes participate but only 140 managed to finish.
Kenyan runner and favourite Eliud Kipchoge took the gold with a timing of 2:08:44 . Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia took the silver while Galen Rupp of United States took the bronze. Stephen Kiprotich from Uganda who ended the Kenyan domination in the marathon event at London 2012 could only manage a 14th place finish this time around.
All three Indian athletes initially looked well behind the pace in the initial stages of the race clocking in 73rd, 77th,84th after the first 5 kilometers of the race but as Nitendra Singh Rawat faded towards the middle stages, Kheta Ram and Gopi Thanackal started closing in on the men upfront slowly gaining pace in the latter stages before eventually finishing with personal best timings. Nitendra Singh could however only manage to finish 84th after being unable to keep with the pace set by his colleagues.
But India’s performance on the final day of Rio gives a glimmer of hope and shows us how talent is still there in the farthest corners of the country. With proper facilities and training, we might see these guys finish even higher than they did here today. But the future certainly look bright for India. Despite the paltry appearance of the medal tally, the performance of the runners today bring yet another positive for an Indian contingent which certainly played well beyond their leagues in certain events despite missing out on medals.