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Commonwealth Games

Commonwealth Games 2022: Influence of late Nikolai in my career is unmatched, says emotional Sable

Avinash Sable created history with his silver medal in the 3000m steeplechase where he defeated two Kenyans to claim a historic medal.

Avinash Sable

Avinash Sable won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2022. (Photo credit: JSW)



Updated: 7 Aug 2022 12:22 PM GMT

Coaches may come and go but the late Nikolai Snesarev will have a special place in star steeplechaser Avinash Sable's heart for his contribution to his overall growth as an international athlete.

Sable beat a strong field of Kenyan athletes to win silver in the 3000m steeplechase at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday and it was the Belarusian, who instilled that self-belief in the army man. Snesarev tragically passed away in 2021 after he came back to India that year, following a long gap.

"I will never forget what coach Nikolai Snesarev did for me. Many coaches will come and go in my life but his influence on my career has been life-changing. He changed my belief. I have never seen a more honest coach in my life," Avinash choked up while speaking about Snesarev.

"The preparations for the Olympics were going well when he left us (died in March 2021). It was a really difficult time for me. I would have never believed that Indians could fight Kenyans. I thought Indians go to international events just to participate. He changed that for me," he added.

On Saturday, Avinash's historic run not only made him the first Indian to win a medal in the 3000-metre Steeplechase event, but he also ensured he shattered the almost two-and-a-half decade-old Kenyan hegemony in the discipline as well.

"Indians can do well in all events at the world level. We have to believe that we have skills and talent. We should not be intimated when we are up against international athletes. It is not as difficult as we often think," Avinash said. Sable, whose stardom is on its ascendency, feels that the time he spent abroad was instrumental to his success at the showpiece event.

"Training abroad was key for me. Had I stayed back and trained in India, I would have just kept breaking national records and would not have been able to challenge the Kenyans and win a medal," Sable said in a virtual press conference.

"Indian athletes must regularly train overseas and compete against international athletes. The last five to six months turned out to be quite good for me as I trained abroad. I did not have the same confidence when I was training in India," he added.

According to his coach Scott Simmons, Sable's never-say-die attitude sets him apart from the rest. "I was so excited to see him go for the win at the end. He could have easily got bronze & it would still have been a fantastic achievement. But he wanted that gold. That's his spirit. That's the mentality that's needed. In my view that's his best competition run," Simmons said.

"He (Sable) is a fighter. I have seen him fall and get back. He will continue to do that in the future. He is a very tough athlete. He will be at the top level very soon," he added. "The World Championships final was truly an eye-opener for me. I never competed in an event like that in my career.

So, after that, my coach changed my practice drills for the Commonwealth Games," Sable said. Notwithstanding his success at the CWG, Sable wants to put his head down and has set his sights on the next big events, including the Diamond League. "I just want to continue working hard and prepare myself for the next big events in the coming days. Even yesterday, I decided to take part in the 5000m event. So, I just want to keep going," Avinash said.

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