World athletics: Avinash Sable eliminated in 3000m steeplechase heat

Avinash Sable, among the top Indian faces to watch out for at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, crashed out on the opening day after finishing seventh in the men’s 3000m steeplechase heats on Saturday.

India’s Avinash Mukund Sable, Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale, Kenya’s Simon Kiprop Koech, and other athletes compete in the Men’s 3000m steeplechase heats during the World Athletics Championships(AFP)

Sable, the Commonwealth Games and Asian Championships silver medallist who has broken the 3000m steeplechase national record nine times over the last few years, clocked a below-par 8:22.24, way behind his season best of 8:11.63 and personal best of 8:11.20 achieved at last year’s Birmingham CWG.

Sable’s seventh place finish in Heat 1 meant he was out of contention for a place in the final, with only the top five athletes from each of the three heats earning the spot.

Earlier, athletes could also qualify by time after the automatic slots were locked but according to the new rules, for middle-distance events longer than 800m, qualifying from the heats will be based purely on positions and not the next fastest times.

The 28-year-old Sable, who had been training at altitude in Colorado Springs and St Moritz, Switzerland, in preparation for the Worlds and had clocked 8:11.63 at the Silesia Diamond League in Poland last month. But he couldn’t quite get out of the shackles in a slow race topped by Ethiopian Getnet Wale (8:19.99).

The Indian remained fifth at the first 1000m split, third at the 2000m split and even led the thick bunch briefly at the 2300m mark. From thereon, however, pegged back by the hurdles, Sable’s pace dropped considerably and he couldn’t get the kick in the final stretch to sneak back into the top five.

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