Asian Games: Lone ranger Avinash Sable wins maiden gold for India in 3000m steeplechase

IANS Photo

Hangzhou, October 1 (IANS) For years at major athletics championships and multi-discipline events, India's Avinash Sable has chased other runners in the 3000m steeplechase, hoping to use his explosive 'kick' in the home stretch to race past his opponents.

It has worked sometimes but mostly, Sable has either finished second, like in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022, or faded away towards the finishing out of the medal race, like it happened in the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, earlier this year.

On Sunday at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, the 29-year-old decided to do some front-running and took lead from the start itself and waged a lone battle as he won the race by a big gap and claimed his first gold medal and also maiden gold for India in 3000m steeplechase at the Asian Games.

Sable made history in Habgzhou on Sunday by becoming the first Indian athlete to win the gold medal in the Men's 3000m Steeplechase, leading from start to finish to clock a Games Record time of 8 minutes 19.50 seconds.

This was India's first gold medal in Athletics in Hangzhou and also the fourth medal, coming on the third day of competitions in Athletics. It took India's overall tally to 12 gold medals in Hangzhou.

Sable, the Armyman from Maharashtra, surged ahead from the start itself and took over the lead from the pack going into the second lap and after a couple of laps, the Sable opened up a decent gap that he continued to extend.

He cut down his pace and did not go all out in an attempt to go for gold as he did not want to take any risk as this is his last race of the season and Sable wanted to win his first gold in a major event.

Ryoma Akoi of Japan took silver medal in 8:23.75 while his compatriot Seiya Sunada took bronze in a timing of 8:26.47.

By clicking 8:19.50, Sable rewrite the Asian Games Record of 8:22.19 set by Hossein Keyhani of Iran in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta. However, this is way slower than his personal best of 8:11.20 and the season's best of 8:11.63.

It was a slow race in the absence of tough competition but for Sable, it did not matter. It was a victory for his ambitions and tactical acumen. It was victory for his desire to win his maiden Asian Games gold medal and that is all that matters to Sable.

He completed the first 1000m in 2:40.97 and has clocked 5:27.48 at the 2000m mark,

"I have always followed the pace set by others. Today, I decided to set my own pace and not to bother about what others were doing'," Sable said after his emphatic victory'" said Sable during an interaction in the mixed zone.

He said he was happy to have won his first gold medal in the Asian Games and thanked the Sports Ministry, the Sports Authority of India. His employers and all those who supported him.

'This is a victory for India. I am very happy to have won this gold medal'," said Sable