Way before Sudha Singh set her eyes at the finishing line of Tata Mumbai Marathon held on Sunday, she was determined of securing her third consecutive victory.
“I am fit and going for the hat-trick,” she had said, a day before the mega event. And certainly, the Olympian stayed true to her words.
With a timing of 2:45:30s, Sudha clinched her third successive title in the Indian Elite women’s category, with an overall rank ten.
However, wearing the critical hat, Sudha’s Sunday performance was quite an ordinary one -- having taken ten more minutes than the 2019 record time.
“But,” she reasons, “I have just healed from my recent injury. Didn’t want to pressurise myself. My aim was to complete the hat-trick and I am satisfied with what I achieved.”
When further asked what next for the Arjuna Awardee, she says: “Tokyo 2020.”
Sudha has been practising day in and out to qualify for the this year’s Olympics. Every week, the 33-year-old runs roughly 40 kilometres to prepare for the grand stage, accompanied by daily training and mindful diet.
“I am confident of qualifying,” she affirms.
Other than Sudha, Jyoti Gawate emerged runner-up clocking a timing of 2:49:14, while Shyamali Singh from West Bengal attained the 3rd position with a timing of 2:58:44.
Jyoti and Sudha were running together for the first 25 kilometres, but the latter lost the track while battling physical fatigue. Regardless, the Maharashtrian looked content with how she fared.
Bagging the second prize was ‘very crucial’ for Jyoti. Her Sunday earnings will help her participate in the next races.
Daughter of a ‘safai karmchari’, Sudha hails from Parbhani. Running is her sole source of finance with no job and none to sponsor her dreams. “However,” she says, “As far as I am running, there is nothing to worry about.”
On similar lines, the bronze medallist Shyamali Singh had treated her tumour with the prize money of Rs 4 lakh that she had earned back in 2017.
Her husband-cum-coach Santosh Singh on Sunday stood proudly at one corner as Shyamali interacted with the media. With pride, he says: “Obviously as a coach I am not very happy, but as a husband, I am proud of what of her feat. Securing third position is no joke and she certainly deserves a healthy break from here. Maybe I can treat Shyamali with her favourite food.”