For Kapil Dev, the Asian Games was a “thrilling” experience because it showcased a rising India where youngsters from varied background have learnt to win medals at big sporting platforms.
“I am proud to be here,” he said at the announcement of the Territorial Army and Athletics Federation of India (TAAFI) run to be held on October 2.
Kapil, in his capacity as Honorary Lt. Col of the Territorial Army, is also the Brand Ambassador for the event which is being promoted as the official National Marathon of India. It will, however, be run as a Half-Marathon this year.
“The background of a player doesn’t matter anymore. Hima (Das) is a real inspiration,” said Kapil in reference to the growing number of success stories in Indian sport where teenagers from non-sporting and humble background have emerged as champions.
“Most of them have come from humble backgrounds, but that has not stopped them from winning medals. Our boys and girls have done exceptionally well. Today no one can say I cannot do well because I didn’t get the opportunity.
“Sometimes you have to find the opportunity and write your destiny. Sport is about celebrations and there is no room for nepotism, which can take you only up to a certain level. It doesn’t work in athletics which has measurable events,” Kapil said.
The former India captain praised the efforts of various federations too. “You can’t do such good without the federations. The athletes are shining and the Asian Games has shown the new trend in Indian sport. I am proud of our medal winners.”
On behalf of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), Sandeep Mehta offered “unstinted” support for the marathon. “Two of our gold medallists at the Asian Games are from Army,” Mehta said.
The AFI will also recognise this marathon as a pre-requisite for athletes to qualify in various international marathons.
Lt. Col. Surender Singh promised to make the marathon a “popular part of the Indian athletics calendar. We want to promote distance running.”
For Siddhartha Upadhyay of STAIRS, the marathon was a welcome venture. “We need more such events. Let it be a national movement,” he observed.
Kargil War veteran Maj. D.P. Singh, who is also India’s first blade runner, said: “We should promote running because it doesn’t require expensive infrastructure and equipment. Running can certainly make India a fit country.”