Runners Srinu Bugatha and Sudha Singh hopeful of qualifying for Tokyo Olympics
Sports Minister Kiran Rijiju felicitat ace runner Sudha Singh for receiving the Padma Shri award on the eve of the Ageas Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon, in New Delhi on March 6, 2021.

Runners Srinu Bugatha and Sudha Singh hopeful of qualifying for Tokyo Olympics

New Delhi, March 6, 2021

The country's top runners Srinu Bugatha and Sudha Singh on Saturday exuded confidence about attaining the qualifying mark for the Tokyo Olympics during the 6th edition of the Ageas Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon here on Sunday.

Others leading runners who will be seen in action include defending champion Rashpal Singh, Bahadur Singh Dhoni, Hetram and Nitendra Singh Rawat among men and Jyoti Singh Gawte (last year’s NDM winner), Jigmet Dolma and Tsetan Dolkar among women.

Arjuna Awardee Sudha Singh, who has been conferred with Padma Shri, was felicitated by Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju before the press conference for her achievement.

Talking to media persons, Bugatha and Sudha said that they have been going through tough training regimens with the sole aim of making the cut for the Olympics.

Bugatha, who hails from Andhra Pradesh and trains at the Army Institute of Sports in Pune, asserted that his aim was to clock under-= 2:11.30 timing to turn his dream into a reality.

“Due to the pandemic, I have missed out on a couple of opportunities but I have also recorded my personal best of 2:18.36 this year which gives me the confidence to attain the qualifying norm,” he said.

Sudha Singh, a former Asian Games gold medallist in 3,000 steeplechase, said her target is beating the national marathon record of 2:30.00 set by OP Jaisha to break into the Indian squad.

“I believe that I have trained hard over the past year and I will put in my best effort to try and qualify for the Olympics tomorrow,” she said.

Rijiju said, "Sports is always a unifying activity that brings in positivity and cheer. Happy to see the 6th edition of New Delhi Marathon happening post the long lull due to pandemic."

"We wish Sudha Singh and Srinu Bugatha the very best who will be trying to achieving the qualification for Tokyo Olympics and break records. We appreciate their dedication in training during these tough times. SAI and AFI have done a great job following all SOPs for conducting several events to ensure sportspersons during this pandemic get a good platform to train and excel," he added

Athletics Federation of India (AFI) president Adille Sumariwalla said, “We are happy to see the National Marathon receiving such good response and are hoping that the sportspersons continue to bring laurels to the country. It is also heartening to see tremendous response from over 15,000 runners participating in the virtual edition of this event."

"It is wonderful to see the response from the running community for the Ageas Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to organize live sports events over the past year, but it is very encouraging to see the tremendous positivity and enthusiasm from runners, not only in Delhi but across the country, who have signed up for both the live and virtual events,” Karthik Raman, Chief Marketing Officer, Ageas Federal Life Insurance, said.

Race Director Nagaraj Adiga said, “We have taken all measures to ensure the safety of the participants. We are happy to be back on this momentous event. Virtual event is a new experience for us as organizers and we are glad that runners from across the country and outside are participating in the AFLI Circuit comprising events across 4 cities”

Organised by NEB Sports, under the aegis of Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and Fit India, as many as 1,000 athletes will be competing in the event, making it one of the biggest sporting turnouts in the country since the pandemic struck.

Over 50 corporate teams, including Indian Oil, IndusInd, Cisco Runners, and 200 running groups have signed up for the AFLI Circuit which will see events in Kolkata (full marathon), Mumbai (half marathon) and Bangalore (10k).

As many as 15,000 others will also be running in the virtual marathon from different parts of the world over five days, starting from March 7.

The runners will be participating across the four categories of Full Marathon, Half Marathon, 10k and 5k. At the live event, COVID-19 protocols have been put in place to ensure the safety of the runners.

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