Gopi Thonakal created a history by becoming the Indian man to win Asian Marathon Championship. He achieved the feat in 16th edition of the esteemed occasion held at Dongguan in China.
He clocked 2:15:48 seconds to secure the gold. Andrey Petrov of Uzbekistan packed away the silver with a planning of 2:15:51 seconds, while Byambalev Tseveenravdan of Mongolia won bronze by timing 2:16:14 seconds.
The 29-year-old from Wayanad district of Kerala had won the New Delhi Marathon in 2:15:37 seconds prior this year. He was 28th in the London World Championships in August with a timing of 2:17:13 seconds. In the Rio Olympics a year ago, he had timed his own best of 2:15:25 seconds while completing 25th.
Prior, Asha Agarwal won the ladies’ title when it was a part of the biennial Asian Track and Field Championships.
“I am proud to have won a gold for my country. I am also proud to become the first Indian man to have won a gold in this championship,” Thonakal told PTI after the race.
“I was confident of clocking a very good time today. I could change gear according to the situation of the race. I had a lot in my tank and I feel I could have run a faster time,” he added.
Asked about his chances in big events next year, including the Asian Games, he said, “Now that I have won the Asian Championships, naturally I can look forward to winning a medal in the Asian Games also”.
“But you never know, I will give my best and try to win a medal in the Asian Games. Let us see.”