Commonwealth Games 2022 athletics: India's Avinash Sable denies Kenya a steeplechase podium clean sweep for first time since 1994

Avinash Sable clocked 8:11.20 in Birmingham to record India’s first medal in the 3000m steeplechase at the Commonwealth Games. Sable finished 0.05s behind the winner.

By Utathya Nag
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

India’s Avinash Sable bettered his own national record by almost a second to win the silver medal in the men’s 3000m steeplechase at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham, UK, on Saturday.

Avinash Sable clocked 8:11.20 to better the previous NR of 8:12.48, set at the Rabat Diamond League earlier this year. This was also India’s first-ever medal in steeplechase at the Commonwealth Games.

“My last lap was a bit disappointing, but I’m really happy because it is a long [time] since India won a long distance medal,” Sable said

Kenya’s Abraham Kibiwot, the 2018 Gold Coast silver medallist and one of the leading runners this year, narrowly edged the Indian by 0.05 seconds to win the gold medal. World junior champion Amos Serem, also from Kenya, took the bronze 8:16.83.

Kenyan Olympic and two-time world champion Conseslus Kipruto finished sixth in 8:34.96.

"In the middle of the race I had a problem with my back and it didn't allow me to run at a high pace and continue to fight for the medals," Kipruto revealed. "I decided just to finish the race, and I am happy I did, although it was not a high performance."

Sable’s feat was a momentous one considering it was the first time since the Victoria 1994 Commomwealth Games that the mighty Kenyans failed to sweep the podium in the men’s 3000m steeplechase. Canada’s Graeme Vincent Fell won the bronze back then to deny Kenyan runners a 1-2-3 finish.

Avinash Sable, who finished 11th at the world athletics championships in Oregon last month after a slow start, was quick off the blocks during his race at the Alexander Stadium and was in the leading pack with three Kenyan runners, who led the race in the initial phase.

With the rest of the field falling behind, Sable did well to stay with the Kenyan trio, considered as the pre-tournament favourites to clean sweep the podium.

It was in the final stretch that the Indian stepped on the gas and moved into the medal positions.

The final 150m proved to be a sprint to the finish line as Sable and Kibiwot duked it out for the top spot. The Indian had the Kenyan on his toes but eventually fell 0.05 seconds short of the gold.

Avinash Sable fails to finish 5000m race

Barely eight hours after his gruelling yet rewarding 3000m steeplechase race, Avinash Sable took the track again for the men’s 5000m but couldn’t finish.

Avinash Sable, who broke a 30-year-old national record in the 5000m when he clocked 13:25.65s in a meet in the USA earlier this year, was 12th in a 20-man field at the 4000m mark but dropped out after that.

Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo, who holds the world record in half-marathon and was a 10,000m bronze medallist at Tokyo 2020, bagged the gold medal with 13:08.08.

Kenya’s Nicholas Kimeli (13:08.19) and Jacob Krop (13:08.48), the world championships silver medallist from Oregon 2022, bagged the silver and bronze, respectively.

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