Avinash Sable has mentioned that he was focused on qualifying for the Tokyo Games, knowing fully well that a podium finish at the World Championships in Doha was out of the question and he finished 13th in the finals. In just over 12 months, Sable has recreated national record four times.
Olympics bound 3000m steeplechaser Avinash Sable on Friday qualified for the Tokyo Olympics by shattering his own national record for the second time in three days. On Saturday, he said he was focused on qualifying for the Tokyo Games, knowing fully well that a podium finish at the World Championships in Doha was out of the question as he finished 13th in the finals.
“I knew that it was going be really tough to win a medal or finish in top 5 or 6. So, I focused on qualifying for the Olympics. I came out for the race thinking to qualify for the Olympics,” he told PTI from Doha.
The 25-year-old added that it was his and coach Amrish Kumar’s plan all along. Now he has nine months to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics.
The steeplechaser from Mandwa village in Maharashtra clocked 8:21.37 seconds to breach the Olympics qualifying standard of 8:22.00 and create a new national record. This was his fourth national record in just over 12 months. His first national record (8:29.80) was set in September last year during the National Open in Bhubaneswar after he broke a 37-year-old national record held by Gopal Saini. The second (8:25.23) came in March this year at the Federation Cup in Patiala which he followed up with a timing of 8:25.23 seconds during the first round heats on Tuesday. During this period, he made an improvement of nearly eight-and-a-half seconds.
Sable had made it to Friday’s finals in dramatic circumstances after he initially failed to make the cut through the heats as he finished seventh, out of contention for the finals, on Tuesday. He was later included in the starting line up after the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) successfully protested that he was obstructed by other athletes (Takele Nigate) during the heat race.
“I would like to thank the AFI for the prompt protest. I got a lot of support from the AFI officials. After the race, they told me not to worry and I will be able to race in the finals. Ultimately, the protest was successful and I owe this result to the AFI,” he said.
Avinash said if not a medal, he will aim to finish in the top 5 or 6 in the Tokyo Olympics, for which he will now need to slice at least 12 seconds from his timing in the World Championships.
“I need to cut down at least 12 seconds and run below 8 minute 10 seconds by the time of Tokyo Olympics. That is my target,” said the havaldar in the Indian Army.
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