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TSK stars set for Sunday

Tariku Bekele, 10,000m bronze winner at the 2012 Olympic, set to join the 6th edition of the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K

By Our Special Correspondent in Calcutta

  • Published 13.12.19, 3:20 AM
  • Updated 13.12.19, 3:20 AM
(From left) Leonard Barsoton, Stanley Kebenei, Tariku Bekele, Birke Debele, Failuna Matanga at Prinsep Ghat on Thursday
(From left) Leonard Barsoton, Stanley Kebenei, Tariku Bekele, Birke Debele, Failuna Matanga at Prinsep Ghat on Thursday Picture by Gautam Bose

Tariku Bekele, a name to reckon with on the international running circuit, feels familiar with Calcutta even on his first visit to the city.

The 10,000m bronze winner at the London 2012 Olympic Games is all set to join the sixth edition of the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K, partnered by The Telegraph, this Sunday after hearing about the city and its premier race from elder brother and distance-running icon Kenenisa Bekele.

The senior Bekele had set a course record of 1:13:48 in TSK Kolkata 25K two years ago.

“He is like my coach and adviser. We train together. He spoke to me about Calcutta in detail, especially about the festive nature of the run,” Tariku told Metro at the media centre off Red Road on Thursday.

Tariku, 32, has had a sparkling running career himself over the past 12 years. One of the highlights was a gold at the Berlin ISTAF in 3000m in 2010.

But a hamstring injury forced him to shift focus to road races. He ran the Seoul Marathon in March with the injury and finished sixth. “I have recovered now and am in good shape. On Sunday, I will give my best,” Tariku said.

Abel Kirui and Leonard Barsoton from Kenya are likely to be some of the other race favourites. Kirui is a double world marathon champion and Olympic silver medallist. His latest marathon gold came in Chicago in 2016.

Barsoton, who trains in Japan, won two silver medals in World Cross Country in 2013, following it up with a gold in the Africa Cross Country Championships in Kampala in 2014 and a silver in 10,000m in the African Games.

Also in the fray will be Stanley Kebenei, better known in the steeplechase circuit.

The 30-year-old from Kenya finished second in the US Half Marathon Championships in Pittsburgh in April.

Birke Debele from Ethiopia and Failuna Matanga from Tanzania will be among the top female athletes. Debele won the 15km Seven Hills Run in the Netherlands in 2017, toppling world champion Rose Chelimo. She came fourth in the Toronto Marathon in May.

Matanga had finished third in TSK 2017. Her most recent podium finish — third in Hamburg Marathon on April 28.