sable: Shocker in World Athletics C’ships: Sable fails to qualify for final round in 3000m steeplechase


National record holder 3000m steeplechaser Avinash Sable failed to qualify for the final round of the World Athletics Championships after finishing a disappointing seventh in his heat race in a shocking result here on Saturday. Three Indians brought up the rear in the men’s 20km race walk final while young Shaili Singh also failed to make it to the women’s long jump final on a mediocre opening day for the country’s athletes.

Sable, who trained abroad for many months on Sports Ministry’s funding to prepare for this showpiece event and was exempted from competing in domestic events, clocked 8 minute and 22.24 seconds to finish seventh in heat number one.

It was a tactical race and the 28-year-old failed yet again on the biggest stage. He was the lead runner at the 2300m mark but lost momentum later on, especially in the last lap, to clock well below his national record time of 8:11.20.

Only the top five finishers in the three heats make it to the final round.

Sable was expected to at least make it to the final, if not win a medal. His performance is a huge disappointment for the Indian camp.

This was Sable’s third World Championships appearance and the first time he could not reach the final round. He had finished 11th in the final in Eugene, USA, last year, unable to deal with a tactical race that was one of the slowest in the history of the showpiece. He was 13th in the 2019 Doha edition. World record holder Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia clocked the best time going into the final with 8:15.89 as he won heat number three, while Olympic and world champion Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco was second in heat two with 8:23.66.

In the men’s 20km race walk, Vikash Singh finished 28th in a time of 1 hour 21 minute 58 seconds, while Paramjit Singh (1:24:02) and Akashdeep Singh (1:31:12) were 35th and 47th respectively in the event in which 50 athletes competed.

The performance of national record holder Akashdeep (NR: 1:19:55) was all the more disappointing as he was the last athlete to finish the race.

Two race walkers did not finish while one was disqualified.

Shaili, a protege of the legendary long jumper Anju Bobby George, finished 14th out of 18 competing athletes in Group B qualification round with a best effort of 6.40m.

The 19-year-old Indian, who has a personal best of 6.76m, ended at 24th spot overall in the combined result of the two qualification groups.

She jumped 6.26m in her first attempt, before clearing 6.40m and 6.30m in his next two attempts.

Those who cleared 6.80m or at least 12 best performers from the two qualification groups make it to the final round.

Sable has been undergoing high altitude training in Colorado Springs, USA, for some time. In fact, he began his US training stint under well-known coach Scott Simmons in April last year with funding under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme of the sports ministry.

The overseas training last year paid dividends for Sable as he took the silver in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, ending the hegemony of the Kenyans since 1998.

This year, Sable has been in Colorado Springs since March and he was permitted to train at St Moritz in Switzerland in early August before coming here.

Sable has competed in three Diamond League events this season with the best being at Silsea, Poland, where his timing of 8:11.63 for a sixth place finish saw him qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics much in advance.

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