Avinash Sable: elevated to endurance elite after record performance?

After breaking the national record at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon despite being out of competition for a year, the Indian athlete has now set his sights on the Olympics.

By Ubaid Parkar
Picture by ADHM

Indian steeplechase runner Avinash Sable may have recently broken a national record, but the 26-year-old from Beed believes he can do better.

At the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM) on Sunday, Avinash Sable finished 10th in the men’s event, won by Ethiopia’s Amedework Walelegn, to set a new national record with a time of 60:30. It bettered the previous benchmark by 3 minutes and 16 seconds set by Kalidas Hirave in 2018.

At the ADHM, Sable had a clear strategy - to stay as close as possible to the international runners with an aim to complete the race in under one hour. Winner Amedework Walelegn broke the course record with 58:53 - 1 minute and 37 seconds ahead of the Indian. Sable, meanwhile, was some four minutes ahead of the next Indian runner.

“Right now, I feel my endurance level is comparable to the best in the world,” Sable told ESPN. “I still think I need to improve on my speed. Overall, I feel I can push myself even more.”

Avinash Sable has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in the men’s 3000m steeplechase after his performance at the World Athletics Championships in Doha in October last year.

He had clocked 8.21:37 in Doha -- a national record -- but for the Tokyo Olympics, Sable and his coach Amrish Kumar intend to “get it down to between 8.12:00 and 8.15:00.”

ADHM 2020 was Avinash Sable’s first competition in a year, after several events were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He had decided to participate in the marathon to establish his endurance and get to know how he measures against other athletes.

“My endurance level and speed, both are a lot better than they used to be in the past,” Sable said. “I’m a lot better prepared now than I was at the World Championships. I'm a lot more confident when I run now.”

His coach reckoned that the more track time Avinash Sable gets, the better he becomes. “Unless he competes, he won't ever know what mistakes he is making,” Amrish Kumar explained.

Sable is now aiming to participate in at least three international events - including the Asian Athletics Championships in Hangzhou, China in May - ahead of the Games.

Lead photo: Airtel Delhi Half Marathon

GO OLYMPIC. GET ALL THIS.

Free live sport events. Unlimited access to series. Unrivalled Olympic news & highlights.