Avinash Sable was not a happy man at all even though he had done his best at the Tokyo Olympics. Sable registered a timing of 8:18.12 in the 3000m steeplechase heat in Tokyo but finished seventh overall and could not qualify for the finals of the event. Sable had done his best, improved on his personal best of 8:20.20 (which he had set at the Federation Cup earlier this year in Patiala) but it still didn’t feel right to him.
Sable had worked hard for over two years to do his best at the Tokyo Olympics and he did that. But his aim was to “do something different” and make it to the podium. And so, despite setting a new record, he couldn’t achieve what he set out for and that did not make him happy.
“I was aiming at only the podium and I trained thinking that only. I got support for that from the federation and TOPS scheme accordingly. My fitness level was also very good but then I got Covid at the last moment and it was like saari mehnat pe paani phir gaya (all hard work went to waste).
“I still targeted that I have to do well. I did my personal best, broke the national record too but the happiness that I felt when I broke the national records previously, I didn’t feel that at all. In fact, it felt like it was the worst race of my life. I set a new national record but there was no happiness,” Sable shared in an exclusive interaction with News18.com.
Sable first caught the coronavirus in April end and then he had the virus for the second time, just a month before the start of the Olympics. And that derailed his plans and preparations. “It took me a lot of time to recover, I couldn’t work out at all for 10-12 days. I hadn’t recovered fully but I started working out in that state only because I didn’t have time. The second time was particularly bad and I couldn’t workout the way I used to do,” he explained.
Sable reiterated that he was going for the timing of 8:10 and had coronavirus not hit his body, he could have achieved his goal. “I can’t say that I would have won a medal but I could have achieved the timing of 8:10. Now, I don’t know, I can’t think too much about the missed chance, I did try my best, had I not had Covid, I would have done it.”
Sable, along with the rest of the athletics contingent, had reached Tokyo on July 23 and they saw Mirabai Chanu win the silver medal, PV Sindhu going ahead into the competition smoothly and even though it built some pressure, Sable said he was determined to do well.
“We did feel like medals were coming in other events and it was a good start. In athletics, mine was the first event and I just thought I wanted to do well. I did give my 100 per cent but my body was a bit weak and it showed.”
Sable’s journey in steeplechase began in 2016. He was a soldier in the Army since 2012 and it was only in 2016 that he got into the sports unit and started training. In 2017, he played in the nationals and got his ticket into the national camp. Over the years with the help of the foreign coaches in the national setup, Sable had constantly improved his own timing and elevated the level of the steeplechase. Sable says earlier no one thought of breaking Gopal Saini’s 37-year-old record of 8:30 (set in 1981 at the Asian Athletics Championship in Tokyo) but he did it and the Athletics Federation of India took note and gave him a lot of support.
“When I came into steeplechase, before that, competitions were very less. Earlier, the event was not there in Grand Prixs but in the last few years, the federation has supported the event a lot. Earlier in the national championships, only 7-8 athletes would run in steeplechase but this year in March in Patiala when the competition took place, a lot of people were running. The event set an entry mark and steeplechase has improved. When more and more results come, more athletes would enter the event,” he opined.