India have seen Thonakal Gopi, Nitendra Rawat and Kheta Ram going head to head in recent marathons. In 1970s, Indians have witnessed brave heart runners Hari Chand and Shivnath Singh running for glory side by side in 800m and 1500m. This story is about Shivnath Singh, whose Marathon National Record still stands after 40 years.
Shivnath, hailing from Majhria, Buxar, Bihar was one of the best long distance runners India has produced. Eariler, Shivnath used to compete in 5,000 m and 10,000 m but he shifted to marathon in mid 1970s. This turned out to be the game changer decision for him and country.
- Unbroken National Record in Marathon with timing of 2:12:00 hours created in 1978
- Finished 11th in 1976 Montreal Olympics with the timing of 2:16:22 hours
- Awarded with ‘Sportsman of the Year’ in 1974 along with Arjuna Award.
Indian Army veteran Shivnath, joined Tata Steel after resigning from the Army. Though he was honoured with Arjuna Award, he is one of the unsung heroes of Indian sports. In 1974 Asian championships he won India’s first ever Gold in 5000m. In 1978 Hari Chand won Gold in same discipline for India. This was the Golden era for Indian long distance runners. In last Asian Championships held in Bhubaneswar 2017, G Lakshmanan won Gold in 5000m for India after the gap of 40 years.
Shivnath’s marathon national record of 2:12:00 created on 28th May 1978 in Jalandhar, still stands after 40 years. Hats off to this Army brat who came inch close to finish in top 10 in 1974 Montreal Olympics.