Ram Singh has last laugh, runs all the way to London

Hindustan Times | ByAbhijeet Kulkarni, Mumbai
Jan 16, 2012 01:12 AM IST

After a narrow miss four years ago, athlete happy to qualify for the Olympics. Abhijeet Kulkarni reports.

The last time Ram Singh Yadav chased his Olympic dream, he came agonisingly close — three seconds to be precise — at this very venue. He still cannot forget the embarrassment when the then Indian Olympic Association president, Suresh Kalmadi, announced from the podium that he had qualified for the Beijing Games without even confirming the qualification criteria.

The ‘B’ qualification for Beijing was two hours, 18 minutes and 20 seconds and Yadav had crossed the line in 2:18.23. He was shattered when he came to know about the narrow miss.

But on Sunday, Yadav ensured that he left nothing to chance as he clocked a career-best 2:16.59 to lift the Indian men’s full marathon title in the Mumbai Marathon for the fourth time, a time that is almost a minute better than the 2:18.00 ‘B’ qualification time for the 2012 London Games. He also ended India’s 32-year wait at the Games.

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The last Indian to qualify for the Olympics was Shivnath Singh, who finished 11th in the 1976 Montreal Games but did not finish in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

The Army athlete is still bitter about the 2008 experience. Asked how he felt after qualifying for the London Olympics, Yadav said, "I was very hurt in 2008 as I was not supported enough. I missed by just three seconds. I am not running for my country anymore but for my family and the Army Sports Institute.

As part of his preparations, Yadav had shifted to a nondescript hotel near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to ensure that he was away from the limelight.

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