Avinash Sable (This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of Athletics Federaion of India [AFI]. It has been cropped for use here. No copyright infringement intended)

Avinash Sable has set yet another national record in the men’s 3000m steeplechase.

Running in the final of the discipline at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, he placed thirteenth in a field of 15 finishers but completed the race in 8:21:37 minutes, an improvement over the 8:25:23 he registered in the heat, just a few days ago.

With this timing, Sable has also qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. As per information on Wikipedia, the qualifying time for the men’s 3000m steeplechase at the 2020 Olympics, is 8:22:00.

The fast paced final in Doha featured a hard fought, tight finish. Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya took gold in 8:01:35. Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia placed second in 8:01:36, while Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco finished third in 8:03:76.

Sable’s passage to the final was not a smooth one. In the third heat (it was held three days before the final), he had faced setbacks on the steeplechase course for no fault of his. Takele Nigate of Ethiopia fell twice in that race; in the first incident Sable was among those he brought down, in the second, Sable’s progress was blocked by the stumbling Nigate. The incidents were successfully appealed by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) paving the way for Sable’s eventual inclusion in the final.

The national record Sable set in the heat was an improvement on the national record of 8:28:94 he had set earlier in March 2019 at the Federation Cup in Patiala. The new record from the final improves upon the time set in the heat.

Hailing from Mandwa in Beed district, Maharashtra, Sable is the first steeplechaser from India to qualify for the IAAF World Athletics Championships after Dina Ram in 1991. His qualification for Doha happened at the March 2019 Federation Cup in Patiala.

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)

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