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Run for a long and healthy life: Powell

A Ganesh Nadar | February 13, 2004 18:10 IST
Last Updated: February 13, 2004 21:00 IST

The Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai is the medical partner of Standard Chartered Bank, which is the main sponsor of the first Mumbai Marathon, to be run on Sunday, February 15, 2004. They will look after the health of all the runners during the gruelling 42.195 kms race.

Thirty heart patients who underwent bypass surgery, angioplasty at the hospital are taking part in the shorter event of the marathon, the Dream Run. They have been encouraged to do so by the rehabilitation department of the hospital.

All of them gathered on Friday morning to listen to world long jump record holder Mike Powell, who is in Mumbai as one of the VIPs for the marathon.

Powell, who trained Indian long jump sensation Anju George prior to her bronze medal-winning effort at the World Championships in Paris last year, advised the heart patients to "keep running as it would give them a longer and healthier life". But he cautioned against "pushing too hard".

The 40-year-old American ace who broke Bob Beamon's 23-year-old world record of 8.90 meters with a jump of 8.95 at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo, revealed that he is going to try and snatch a berth in the United States' team for this year's Athens Olympics.

He said he would have run in the Mumbai marathon, but since he is "training for the Olympics long jump which requires explosive energy", it would be detrimental to his preparations for Athens.

Going back to the day when he broke the long jump world record, Powell recounted: "Carl Lewis had just broken the world record in the 100 metres sprint. He was in great form, he could easily run faster than me towards the jumping pit. I knew that; I also knew that my body was fit enough to do it. But I was confident that I could do it, and I did!"

Told he is the hope of a billion Indians, who are waiting for him to win them a gold medal at the Athens Games, he shot back: "You mean Anju, don't you?"

'Alternately you could apply for Indian citizenship,' the reporter replied.

After a hearty laugh, Powell shared his views on Anju's chances.

"I don't mind that. But coming to the point, in an Olympic final everybody is talented. I have to get her ready for that. The medal she won at the world meet was great. Till then she was always doubtful whether she belonged to that group of winners. She thought that she was an outsider.

"After that medal she knows that she belongs to the same class. When you win a medal you want to win more. That will help her.

"I was never lucky to win a gold medal [at the Olympics], because I was participating at a time when Carl Lewis was participating, in spite of being the world record holder. I will be very happy if she wins the gold medal. In fact, any medal at the Olympic level will make me happy for her," said Powell, who had to settle for silver medals at the Olympics in 1988 and '92.

Saying he had been to India in the nineties, to participate in an international meet in Delhi, he said through Anju and her husband [Bobby] he learnt a lot about the country.

Former World Cup marathon champion Richard Nerurkar of Great Britain, who was also present at the Asian Heart Institute gathering opined that the full marathon will be won by a professional runner, while a local man will win the shorter version.

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