Journey of Avinash Sable to the podium finish at the Asian Games 2023
The inspiring journey of Avinash Sable, a small-town Indian athlete who overcame adversity and setbacks to become a steeplechase sensation on the international stage.
Avinash Sable's remarkable performance at the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, was a crowning moment in his illustrious athletic career. On that memorable day, he shattered the Asian Games record in the men's 3000m steeplechase, securing a gold medal for India. His finishing time of 8:19.50 not only clinched the victory but also surpassed the previous record set by Hossein Kheyani in 2018 (8:22.79).
He took an early lead and maintained it throughout the event, making it a start-to-finish affair. At one point, his lead stretched to almost 200 meters. The first 1000 meters were covered in an impressive 2:40.97 minutes, and the 2000 meters in 5:27.48. It's worth noting that had he not slowed down toward the end, he might have even broken his own national record of 8:11.20 minutes, when we won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games 2022.
The significance of Sable's achievement at the 2023 Asian Games extended beyond the record-breaking performance itself. The audience in the 80,000-seat Hangzhou Olympics Sports Centre, though initially subdued, gradually rallied behind him. They chanted "Indo Jiayou," meaning "come on, India," and cheered him on as he crossed the finish line.
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Avinash Mukund Sable was born on 13 September 1994, in Mandwa, Tq. Ashti, Beed district, Maharashtra, India. He hails from a family of farmers and grew up in a village with limited resources. From the age of six, he had to cover a 6-kilometer distance on foot between his home and school due to the lack of transportation facilities in his village.
After completing his 12th grade, Sable joined the 5 Mahar regiment of the Indian Army. His postings took him to challenging terrains, including the Siachen Glacier in 2013-2014, the deserts of northwestern Rajasthan, and Sikkim from 2015. It was during his time in the army that he was introduced to competitive running.
In 2015, at the insistence of his colleagues, Sable participated in inter-army cross-country running. Despite being overweight at the time, he displayed remarkable determination by shedding 20 kilograms (44 pounds) in just three months. This transformation caught the attention of his trainers, and he subsequently switched to steeplechase under the guidance of coach Amrish Kumar.
Avinash Sable's career saw its fair share of challenges, including an ankle injury that prevented him from qualifying for the 2018 Asian Games. However, he bounced back strongly, breaking the 37-year-old national record held by Gopal Saini in 2018 with a time of 8:29.80 at the National Open Championships in Bhubaneswar. He earned him a spot in the 2019 Asian Athletics Championships and the 2019 World Athletics Championships, making him the first male steeplechaser from India to qualify for the World Championships in decades.
Sable continued to make his mark on the international stage, winning a silver medal at the 2019 Asian Athletics Championships in Doha with a timing of 8:30.19. His journey to the 2019 World Athletics Championships included overcoming obstacles, such as accidental tripping during the heats. After a successful appeal by the Athletics Federation of India, he became the first Indian to qualify for the 3000 meters steeplechase final at the World Championships. Sable's national record improved to 8:21.37 in the final, securing his qualification for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
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Sable represented India at the 2020 Summer Olympics, where he set a new national record of 8:18.12 in the heats, finishing as the fastest non-qualifier across all heats. In 2022, he continued to excel, setting additional national records at the Indian Grand Prix (8:16.21) and the Meeting International Mohamed VI in Rabat (8:12.48). He won a silver medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, making history as the first non-Kenyan athlete to medal in the men's 3000 meters steeplechase at the Commonwealth Games since 1994.
Avinash Sable's journey reached its peak at the 2023 Asian Games, where he not only clinched the gold but also set a new Games record. His story serves as a source of motivation for all those who dare to dream and work hard to achieve their goals.