G Lakshmanan of Tamil Nadu and Monika Athare from Maharashtra won the men’s and women’s categories respectively as tennis great Boris Becker graced the 25K Kolkata marathon run here on Sunday.
Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly, State sports minister Aroop Biswas, former Bengal captain and the minister of State, Sports department Laxmi Ratan Shukla, actress Rituparna Sengupta, sports presenter Samir Kochhar were among the other guests.
While the governor flagged off the run, Becker captured the video of thousands of people running on Red Road.
Becker, a six-time Grand Slam champion and ex-coach of Novak Djokovic, was the centres of attraction with many runners seen clicking selfies with the youngest Wimbledon winner. The 49-year-old German, donning a t-shirt and black track pants, happily obliged them. A private organisation and a sports manufacturer brought him in the city.
“It is indeed a great experience to come to the city of joy. I have come here first time, and the experience till now is amazing. This is such a vibrant city!” he said.
“I learnt that ‘Calcutta’ was former capital of India. The city has such a strong sports culture,” Becker said.
He recalled his time on the tennis court and said: “Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier and Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova are just some of the greatest players to grace the court.”
But he was unwilling to compare that time with the present. “Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Roger Federer, they are all champions. It will be unfair to compare this time to my time,” he said.
In the men’s run, it was a close finish as Lakshmanan clocked 01:17:16, a course record, while second placed Srinu Bugatha fell two seconds short at 01:17:18.
A.B. Balliappa was third at 01:17:24.In the women’s section, Jyoti Gawte clocked 01:35:34, a minute and 19 seconds short from winner Monika Athare who finished at 01:34:15.
Monika Raut was third at 01:35:37.