The 29-year-old runner completed the distance in 2 hours, 15 minutes and 48 seconds, beating Uzbekistan’s Petrov Andrey to the gold.

Keralas T Gopi becomes first Indian man to win gold at Asian Marathon ChampionshipsImage Courtesy: Asian Athletics Association
news Sports Sunday, November 26, 2017 - 18:04

Thonakal Gopi created history by becoming the first Indian man to clinch the gold medal in the Asian Marathon Championships on Sunday. His master stroke came in the 16th edition of the event in Dongguan, China.

The 29-year-old Kerala runner completed the distance in 2 hours, 15 minutes and 48 seconds, finishing ahead of Uzbekistan's Petrov Andrey who clocked 2:15:51 hours. The bronze medal went to T.Byambajav of Mangolia, who clocked 2:16:14 hours.

Gopi, thus, became the first Indian man to win the title after the formation of separate Asian Marathon Championships. Earlier, Asha Agarwal and Sunita Godara had won the women’s title in 1985 and 1992, when the event was part of the biennial Asian Track and Field Championships.

Gopi, who has a personal best of 2:15:25 – which he recorded in the Rio Olympics in 2016 – has been in fine form this year, winning the New Delhi Marathon in 2:15:37, his best performance of the season so far.

Primarily a 10,000 metres runner, Gopi had transitioned to running marathons only recently. However, Gopi had managed to make the Olympic qualifying mark at the Mumbai Marathon in 2016, which was the first event of his career at which he had attempted the distance. Interestingly, Gopi was only in the race as a pace-setter and was supposed to drop out after 30km, but continued to finish with an excellent time.

The only child of farmer parents from Wayanad, Gopi studied at the Kakkayaval School, before enrolling for a Bachelor’s degree in Economics at the Mar Athanasius College in Kothamangalam. However, he dropped out of college to join the Indian Army at the age of 21. "A steady, sustained income was crucial, that's how I took up a job in the Indian Army through the sports quota," Gopi had told ESPN.

Inputs from IANS 

 

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