In the fading light on a dull Wednesday afternoon, as others plodded around, Avinash Sable strode gracefully and non-chaotically over the hurdles and water jumps to become the lone bright star of the second leg of the Indian Grand Prix at the Chandrasekharan Nair stadium.
The 27-year-old army man from Maharashtra shaved off two seconds from his national record in the 3000m steeplechase. Avinash’s effort of 8:16.21s earned him tickets for the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championships.
Avinash was least surprised by his record-breaking effort as he and his coach Amrish Kumar had expected a better timing than his Tokyo Olympic performance (8:18.12). “It was a difficult time for me after the Olympics. I caught Covid twice and had to miss training. I put on weight and I had to really work hard to regain my full fitness. I was expecting to do something like 8:18 here and I am pleased with my effort. The World Championships is three months away and with exposure and overseas training in Colarado, I think I will be able to better this performance,” said Avinash.
Indian Grand Prix 2: Sable betters his own steeplechase NR
“I was expecting him to return with timings between 8:17s and 8:18s here and everything went as per our plans. Our target is to go under 8:10s seconds soon and that will make him a medal contender in the big events. Looking back at the rapid strides he has made in the last few years, a sub 8:10s timing is well within his reach,” said Avinash’s coach Amrish Kumar.
Middle distance coach Scott Simmons was also impressed with Avinash and said the athlete can in future turn out to be a medal prospect for India in the Olympics and other international meets.
”I have been with him for only two weeks but I have known him for a while as I have seen him in international meets. His coaches have done a great job on his fitness and technique. He is a natural steeplechaser and is a hard-working boy. He has a reasonably good technique but there are certain minor flaws that we need to work on. I find when he approaches the hurdles his central mass is behind him and there is some breaking going on. I want him to lean in more at the hurdles to stop them breaking. We need to train him as a fast hurdler and also he has to go under the 60s in the last lap. But I think he is capable of going under 8:10s and if he can reach the 8:08s or 8:06s level soon that will make him a medal contender for the big events,” said the US coach.