Andamlak Belihu, Tsehay Gemechu looking for third Airtel Delhi Half Marathon win

The Ethiopians will be among 60 elite international and Indian runners expected this year

By Utathya Nag ·

The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM) flags off in the Indian capital on November 29 and returning to defend their crowns will be 2019 men’s champion Andamlak Belihu and women’s titleholder Tsehay Gemechu.

Both Ethiopian long-distance runners recorded their personal bests in half marathon during last year’s competition to win gold. Belihu clocked at 59:10 while Gemechu completed the course in 66 minutes.

The two won the 2018 and 2019 editions of the event and will be gunning for an unprecedented third ADHM victory.

“This has been a difficult year for everyone due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But my fifth place at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Poland last month has assured me that I am in good shape and I am confident I can put up a good defence of my title,” Andamlak Belihu said.

“I have been training well in (the Ethiopia capital) Addis Ababa for the last couple of months and I am very thankful to have the opportunity to race in Delhi, a city I always enjoy returning to,” the 21-year-old Belihu added.

Andamlak Belihu will have some stiff competition in the elite field, with the 13-man roster featuring some tough competitors in 2020 World Athletics Half Marathon Championships bronze medallist Amdework Walelegn and 2014 ADHM champion Guye Adola. Adola also holds the course record (59:06 seconds) in Delhi.

The 2017 and 2019 world 5000m champion Muktar Edris will also be making his half-marathon debut at the event.

It’ll be an equally tough field for Tsehay Gemechu in the women’s division as she will be up against some tough competition from the likes of Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Netsanet Gudeta and others.

Tsehay Gemechu won the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon women’s event in 2018 and 2019. Photo: ADHM Media

The 21-year-old Gemechu admits that training restrictions due to COVID-19 have only made her title defence tougher.

“COVID-19 is a disaster globally. It has affected my training, not least in the early stages of the pandemic when we were all fearful of infection. I started my own individual training programme with my main goal of coming back to Delhi, although since September I have had some races on the track,” she revealed.

ADHM 2020 will have an estimated 60 elite international and Indian runners in action on the Delhi roads, with the traditional start and finish point being the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.