Services runners Mohammad Yunus and Bahadur Singh Dhoni finished top two in the ninth Kolkata Marathon that was marred by technical glitches on Sunday.
An Athletics Federation of India (AFI) recognised event, the Kolkata Marathon however was reduced to a farce as the organisers did not adhere to the basic competition rules of a marathon and now the timings stand the risk of not being ratified.
“The private organisers should always comply with the rules. We will only approve the timing after seeing the race director’s report. If the report does not tick all the boxes, then the results may not be counted official and will not be taken into account for a selection,” AFI secretary CK Valson said.
There was no electronic time keeping, no dope control and even the finish line on Red Road was not equipped with video recording nor there was any water or other suitable refreshments for the runners, the few basic things for such an event, complained the AFI appointed race director Madhu Kant Pathak.
“They even forgot to give us water at the finish line,” Yunus said after winning with a timing of 2:30:37, 10 seconds ahead of his Army Sports Institute, Pune teammate Dhoni.
Railways runner Arvind Yadav (2:32:13) finished third but they’re not complaining as the Kolkata Marathon offered a handsome prize purse of Rs 16 lakh in total.
It was however a memorable outing for the two former long distance runners, Yunus and Dhoni, who switched to marathon a few months back.
Dhaka South Asian Games 2010 silver medallist, Yunus who also won a bronze in Ranchi National Games the next year, ran his first marathon in Mumbai in January this year and finished fifth among the Indians with his personal best of 2:20:30.
“The weather was hot today to better my timing and achieve Olympic mark (two hours, 19 minutes) but there’s time as I will participate in few marathons in Europe to achieve the target,” Yunus said.
India have already earned three quota places for Olympics in marathon with Yunus’ ASI colleagues Nitendra Singh Rawat, Nitendra Singh Rawat achieving the standards earlier.
“But I still have hope the top three will go to Rio,” he concluded with glint in his eyes.
While the organisers were not available for a comment on the glitches, a senior technical official hired from the Athletics Coaches Association of Bengal said: “The organisers contacted a private firm in Chennai for time keeping but it did not materialise last minute.”