Marathon and distance running is the real test of character, said sports minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday. “The marathon and 100m dash are two events that are very exciting in athletics. I follow both events religiously. The 100m race is a blue-ribbon event of the Olympic Games. As the 100m dash determines the fastest human on the planet, the marathon is the test of endurance,” he said while interacting with elite distance runners competing at the National Marathon here on Sunday.
Rijiju said he is surprised that there are not many followers of the Olympic disciplines in India.
“It is reflection of our sports culture. In a country of 1.38 billion how many of them would be familiar with the names of top elite distance runners like Sudha Singh,” he said, referring to the 3,000m steeplechase specialist.
The sports minister pointed out that the Indian athletes narrowly missed podium finishes in the previous Olympics Games in 2016, and that it hints that Indians have the potential.
“The legendary 400m sprinter Milkha Singh finished fourth at the 1960 Rome Olympics while PT Usha missed bronze medal by wafer-thin margin during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics,” recalled the minister.
Rijiju said the government is providing best facilities to the Tokyo Olympics-bound athletes. He, however, said it was difficult to predict the medal tally.
“We are giving modern facilities. Our job is to support the athletes to prepare for the Olympic Games,” he said.