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Thonakal Gopi aka Thanackal Gopi (born 24 May 1988)[1] is an Indian athlete who has qualified to represent India at the 2016 Summer Olympics[2] in the marathon event. He is also in the Indian Army.[3][4][5] He is the first and so far the only Indian athlete to win gold medal in Asian Marathon Championship.

Thonakal Gopi
Gopi in 2016
Personal information
Born (1988-05-24) 24 May 1988 (age 31)
SportTrack and field
Event(s)10,000 metres
Achievements and titles
World finalsAsian Marathon Championship Gold Medal 2017
Personal best(s)Marathon: 2:15:25 (Rio de Janeiro 2016) Marathon: 2:15:51 Asian Marathon Championship



At age 21, he joined as a general recruit, starting as a Hawildar at the Army Artillery Center in Hyderabad and completed the 9 month mandatory Army training.[6]

Typically a 10,000m athlete, he was designated to keep Nitendra Rawat on track for the first 30 km so that Rawat may qualify for the Olympics with a timing of 02:15 at the 2016 Mumbai marathon. However, Gopi found the distance comfortable and kept going to complete as the 2nd Indian (11th overall, right behind Rawat). He says he never felt the anticipated fatigue of the last 5 km, even though he was bracing his body for it. His VO2 Max is around 84 (ml of Oxygen used in 1 min per kg of bodyweight, comparable to Lance Armstrong), with a resting heart rate of around 45bpm.

In addition to winning the 2014 Gold Medal in the 10,000 meter National Open Athletics and the 2016 Gold Medal in the South Asian Games with a new Games Record, Gopi represented India in the 2016 Asian Cross Country Championships. He represented India at the 2016 Summer Olympics, qualifying with a Marathon time of 02:16:15 in the 2016 Mumbai Marathon along with two other Indian marathoner men, Kheta Ram and Nitendra Singh Rawat.

Competition RecordEdit

Year Competition Venue Position Event Time Reference
2014 National Open Athletics Championships New Delhi, India 1st 10,000 meters 29:32:26 [7]
2015 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon New Delhi, India 2nd Indian / 19th Overall Half marathon 1:02:45 [8]
2016 Mumbai Marathon Mumbai, India 2nd Indian / 11th Overall Marathon 2:16:15 [5][9][10][11][12][13]
2016 South Asian Games Guwahati, India 1st 10,000 meters 29:10:53 GR [14]
2016 Summer Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 1st Indian / 25th Overall Marathon 2:15:25 [15]
2017 IAAF World Championships London, UK 1st Indian / 28th Overall Marathon 2:17:13 [16]

Personal lifeEdit

Born in Wayanad district of the state of Kerala. The son of Wayanad farmers, Gopi is an only child who helped his parents grow rice and ginger while he grew up on their small area of land. Gopi went to Kakkavayal Govt. Higher Secondary School[3] and used to consistently participate in school and college meets.[6] He began a bachelor's degree in Economics at Mar Athanasius College in Kothamangalam, Kerala, but dropped out in the third year when he passed the Army fitness test and joined the Indian Army at Age 21.[6] His home state of Kerala still produces the maximum number of track athletes in India.[3][6]

He is the only earning member of his family and sends his savings home, except for a monthly purchase shoes (priced at roughly Rs 10,000 per pair) to accommodate the number of miles that the athlete runs each month. As of mid 2016, he does not have any corporate sponsorship and has to purchase his own shoes.[6] He and his fellow athletes spend 11 out of 12 months of the year away from home and without meeting their families, a sacrifice that they must make in order to compete on the world stage.[6]


  1. ^ "Thanackal Gopi". Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Indian Marathoners – Bharat at Rio '16 – Track and Field Sports News". Retrieved 2016-07-29.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b c Marar, Nandakumar (17 January 2016). "Gopi hits marathon jackpot in first attempt". Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  4. ^ "Indian Marathoners – Bharat at Rio '16 – Track and Field Sports News". Retrieved 29 July 2016.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ a b Gopi, Thanackal. "IAAF Profile". Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Cool Runnings: India's marathon men".
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-14. Retrieved 2016-08-01.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Race Results - Airtel Delhi Half Marathon". Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  9. ^ "Gopi, Kheta Ram qualify for Olympics; Rawat sets course record - Times of India". Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  10. ^ "Gopi, Kheta Ram qualify for Olympics; Rawat sets course record". The Hindu. 2016-01-17. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  11. ^ "More than 40,000 people participate in the Mumbai Marathon 2016 - Firstpost". 2016-01-17. Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  12. ^ "Rawat sets course record; Gopi, Kheta Ram qualify for Rio". Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  13. ^ "Gopi T, Kheta Ram seal Rio berths | The Asian Age". Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  14. ^ "2016 South Asian Games Results" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-02-23.
  15. ^ "2016 Summer Olympic Games Results".
  16. ^ "IAAF: Marathon Result | IAAF World Championships London 2017 |". Retrieved 2017-08-09.