Marathons were not a part of the plan at the start of the year for Indian steeplechaser Avinash Sable. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced him to improvise.
Sable had earned a Tokyo Olympics berth in the 3000m steeplechase at the World Athletics Championships in Doha last year, twice breaking the national record.
The 26-year-old Sable had last run marathons in 2017. At the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM) though, he will face stiff competition in the Indian Elite Men’s category from defending champion Srinu Bugatha. And with the likes of Andamlak Belihu, Abraham Cheroben and Guye Adola running, Sable has a strong field to compete against.
“The season has been frustrating because there were no competitions. I have done good endurance training so I thought this will be a good platform to test myself against international athletes at home,” Sable told the Hindustan Times.
“Both steeplechase and half marathons are tests of endurance and I have worked on my speed, strength and hurdle technique. I know we will not get many competitions before the Olympics so I have to work harder to improve.”
Avinash Sable has been training with his coach Amrish Kumar in Bengaluru and had also undergone high-altitude training at Ooty in July.
After his intense training even during the national lockdown in India, Sable and coach Amrish have set themselves a target to run the 21.0975 km race in 60 minutes at the ADHM, which will beat Sable’s personal best (around 1:04 or 64 minutes).
If Avinash Sable does achieve it at ADHM 2020, it will be a new national record, beating Kalidas Nirave’s previous best of 1:03.46.
“I’m hungry to run hard and fast and my goal is to stay with the leading pack of elite runners,” said Sable.