Avinash Sable: 5 things to know about the 3000m steeplechase national record holder

Sable has endured extreme temperatures during his time with the Indian Army
By Samrat Chakraborty

Avinash Sable created history when he broke his personal best for the fifth time during the ongoing Federation Cup in Patiala. He set a new national record in men's 3000m steeplechase after clocking 8:20.20. The previous best was 8:21.37 which he achieved in Doha at the World Championship in 2019, which incidentally also sealed a Tokyo 2020 berth for him.

He first broke the national record in 2018 when he crushed Gopi Saini's 37-year-old record. He has now well and truly emerged as one of India's best middle-distance runners.

Let us take a look at five interesting things about this ace athlete.

Humble beginnings

Sable was born on September 13, 1994, in Mandwa, Beed district of Maharashtra. It is an arid region with severe temperatures and frequent droughts. Interestingly, from age six, he would walk to his school which was around six km from his home, in the absence of a proper transport facility.

An Army man

Sable joined the 5 Mahar Regiment of the Indian Army right after completing his schooling. He was posted in the Siachen Glacier, the world's highest battlefield, where the temperature dips to -30 degree centigrade. He stayed there, in one of the most challenging conditions, for two years. In his next assignment, he was transferred to a small desert town of Lalgarh Jattan, near the Pakistan border in Rajasthan, where temperatures soar close to 50 degrees. From the snow-clad mountains to the dust storms in deserts, he has weathered it all. This, perhaps, has contributed to his endurance that has made him one of India's brightest middle-distance runners.

Getting formal training in Army

He only started receiving formal training in distance running during his time with the Indian Army. He took part in a cross-country run in 2015 and started winning medals for his regiment. But a year later in 2016, during his time in Sikkim, he gained a lot of weight and as a result, injured himself while running. But under the strict watchful eyes of his coach, he went from 76 to 59 kg and in 2017 he was spotted by coach Amrish Kumar during one of the inter-army races. He took him under his wings and it was Kumar who introduced him to steeplechase.

Breaking Records

In September 2018, Sable broke the record of Gopal Saini in Bhubaneswar during the 58th National Open Championship when he clocked 8:29.80 seconds in 3000m steeplechase.

He bettered his record in the 23rd Federation Cup (8:28.94) in Patiala in March 2019.

In October, he broke his own record twice within a span of three days during the World Championship in Doha. First, he finished the heats in 8:25.23 and in the final, he ran the race in 8:21.37 .

He would go on to better than record at the ongoing Federation Cup Athletics.

In November 2020, he smashed the national half-marathon record at the Delhi Half-marathon when he clocked 1:00:30 , shaving off more than three minutes from the existing record.

Training under former coach Nikolai Snesarev

Sable was training under the late Nikolai Snesarev, who passed away in tragic circumstances recently in India, before opting to go back to his earlier coach Amrish Kumar.

The Belarussian was a tough taskmaster and Sable felt that his methods were not to his liking after injuring an ankle. However, the runner held the Belarusian in high esteem and even penned an emotional post following the death of the coach.

In fact, Snesarev, who had quit India after Sable left to train under Kumar, had agreed to come back to the country in January 2021 and Sable had agreed to train under him until the Olympics.

But it was not to be as Snesarev's stint in India this time around came to a tragic end.