Avinash Sable qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics despite finishing 13th in the 3000m Steeplechase in the World Athletics Championship. (Photo Credit: Twitter)
India's Avinash Sable qualified for Tokyo Olympics in men's 3,000m steeplechase event by shattering his own national record for the second time in three days though he finished 13th in the final race of the World Championships in Doha on Friday. Avinash clocked 8 minute 21.37 seconds to breach the Olympics qualifying standard of 8:22.00. He also bettered his own national record of 8:25.23 which he clocked on Tuesday during the first round heats. But the difference in class with the medal winners was evident as he finished far behind at 13th spot out of 15 who completed the race. Reigning Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya defended his 2017 title with a time of 8:01.35, more than 20 seconds faster than Avinash, while Lamecha Girma (8:01.36) of Ethiopia and Soufiane Bakkali (8:03.76) of Morocco took the silver and bronze respectively.
The 25-year-old from Mandwa in Maharashtra had made it to Friday's finals in dramatic circumstances after he initially failed to make the cut in the heat races on Tuesday. He was later included among the men's 3000m steeplechase finalists after the Athletics Federation of India successfully protested that he was obstructed by other athletes during the heat race.
The race referee, after examining video footages, agreed that Avinash was significantly obstructed on two occasions. India's protest was accepted and under Rule 163.2 (Obstruction), and Avinash was included for the final.
There was no change in Sable's position but he has been added as the 16th competitor for the final race to be run on Friday. The top three in each of the three heats and the next six fastest qualify for the final race. Both the incidents were triggered by reigning junior world champion Takele Nigate of Ethiopia. In the first, Sable had to jump over another competitor as four-five athletes at the rear fell over each other. Midway during the race, Nigate bumped into an obstacle just in front of Sable.
The Indian had to virtually climb up the obstacle as he was blocked by the Ethiopian, thereby losing crucial time. Despite slowing down due to the two incidents, the 24-year-old Sable ran more than three seconds better than his earlier national record of 8:28.94 which he had clocked in March this year during the Federation Cup. Sable had won a silver on the same tracks in April in the Asian Championships with a time of 8:30.19.