For a major duration of the television coverage of the men’s 3000m steeplechase final at the Doha World Championships, India’s Avinash Sable remained out of the frame and it was hard to even catch a glimpse of him until the race came to an end. He eventually finished a lowly 13th with 8:21.37s on the clock, about 20 seconds behind gold medallist Conseslus Kipruto.
On the global stage, the 25-year-old’s performance has little significance but at a personal level it was a commendable feat as he not only broke his national record for the second time in a span of four days but also made the cut for the Tokyo Olympics by breaching the 8:22.00s qualifying mark.
His effort of 8:25.23s in the heats was also an improvement on his own previous national mark. The road to Games qualification wasn’t one bit easy for the Sable. During the heats, the Maharashtra runner was obstructed by other runners and lost crucial seconds, but fortunately for him, an appeal by the Athletics Federation of India earned him a spot in the final. “If there were no obstructions I would have qualified for the Olympics in the heats itself and in the finals I would have run with lesser pressure. We have been planning for this race since more than a year and my goal of making it to the Olympics has been achieved,” Sable told The Sunday Express.
Sable first entered the record books when he rewrote Gopal Saini’s 37-year-old record at the 2018 Open National Athletics Championship in Bhubaneswar, clocking 8:29.80s. He improved his national mark again at the Federation Cup held in March this year with 8:28.94. In all, he has rewritten the national mark an astonishing four times and has shaved off more than 8 seconds since September last year.
Sable never aspired to be an athlete in the first place. After serving in the “general duty” in the Indian army for three years, including a posting at Siachen, he decided to participate in a cross country competition organised by his employees. Although he finished fifth, his technique caught the eye of army coach Amrish Kumar. To convince Sable to take up athletics full-time wasn’t that tough for Kumar.
“I saw this young boy run and was impressed by his long strides and muscle grouping. I knew he had something special so I went up and asked him if he had any desire to achieve something significant in life. He said, ‘I want to win a medal by knocking down a terrorist at the border’. I told him there’s a way of winning a medal without picking up the gun. He was ready to commit from there on,” coach Amrish told The Sunday Express.
Amrish had modified Sable’s training to ensure he performed at his optimal level in the Doha heat. The army man was made to train under the noon sun in Bengaluru to get used to running in heat. Intense training was shifted to Tuesdays and Fridays, the days at which the heats and finals were held in Doha.
“We trained according to the competition schedule. His body got used to the two-day a week intense training and that’s why he was in a good shape on both of the days. The heat also didn’t get to him. I am proud of what he’s achieved now the focus would be to do well in the Olympics,” said Amrish.
4x400m relay teams, Shivpal fail to qualify for final
PTI ADDS: The Indian men’s and women’s 4x400m relay teams produced disappointing performances while javelin thrower Shivpal Singh came a cropper as they crashed out of the World Championships here on Saturday.
The women’s quartet of Jisna Mathew, M R Poovamma, V K Vismaya and Venkatesan Subha clocked 3 minutes 29.42 seconds to finish sixth in the heat number one and 11th overall in the first round heats to fail to qualify for the finals. Later, the men’s team of Amoj Jacob, Muhammed Anas, K Suresh Jeevan and Noah Nirmal Tom ran 3:03.09 to finish seventh in heat number 2 and 13th overall out of 16 countries to crash out of the championships.
The top three in each of the two heats and the next two fastest teams qualify for the finals.
The women’s quartet, however, bettered the earlier season’s best of 3:31.93 clocked during the IAAF World Relays in Yokohama, Japan, in May. Earlier, Shivpal Singh also failed to qualify for the finals of the men’s javelin throw event as he finished 24th overall in the qualification round. Shivpal produced a best throw of 78.97m from his three attempts to finish 10th in the Group A qualification round.