Making a comeback after a year long injury layoff, India’s long distance star runner Monika Athare bagged a second place finish in the 10k category at the Bajaj Allianz Pune Half Marathon on Sunday.
Monika looked good for the gold medal, but just fell short in the final stretch as Shital Bhagat pipped her by a mere 0.08 seconds.
Speaking after the race, Monika hailed a well-organised marathon and spoke about her experience running her first race in over a year.
“The way the race was organised was very good. There were water points at every kilometer. The climate was good and the roads were also good to complement that, so it felt good to run here,” said Monika.
“I’m making a comeback after a year. I was happy and confident with the way I was running and looked good for a win but fell short in the final 20-30 metres. I’m satisfied with this performance, as this was my first race in a year after a knee injury,” said Monika.
“My confidence is back now as its not easy coming back after a big injury and I did well,” added the 27-year old.
She finished Sunday’s 10 kilometer race in an impressive 37 minutes and 11 seconds, but the experienced campaigner has set high standards for herself, with a personal best of 34 minutes and 40 seconds that came at the Bangalore 10k marathon.
“I had planned for a 36-minute finish coming into today’s race, trying to slowly get back to my best, but I’ll take this (37.11 on Sunday) for a start right after the comeback,” she said.
Monika, though, is no stranger to the ups and downs of professional athletics, having participated in numerous marathons in India over the last 18 years, winning a host of medals, including gold medals in races in Mumbai, Delhi, Banaglore, Kolkata as well. She is also a regular feature on the podium in most top ‘Procam’ marathons in India.
Her watershed moment came a couple of years ago, when Monika represented India in the Women’s full-marathon at the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London.
Monika made herself and the country proud that day, finishing the 42km run in 2 hours and 39 minutes. She also has the experience of competing with the best in the world in events such as the Asian Championships, Asian Cross Country Championships, and other major marathons in Asia and around the world.
Speaking about what next, Monika admitted she will now set her sights on the Federation Cup and other national meets to get more race time under her belt in her quest to get back to her best.