Eight minutes no longer impossible for steeplechaser Avinash Sable

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The myth of the eight-minute mark in 3000m steeplechase is within grasp. It may even turn into reality. Time and again, Avinash Sable has fought with himself and his timings. He improved them and in the quest for the improbable, he won India a silver at the Commonwealth Games, the first by an Indian male in the steeple chase; he has also busted national records nine times since the Bhubaneswar Senior Nationals in 2018; brought down his timing from 8:29.80s to 8:11.20s at the Birmingham CWG. In short, in this short span, he has emerged as one of the top athletes to look out for in the steeplechase not just in India but in the world.

Sable believes that the eight minute mark can be breached or at least reached. During an interview for TNIE  Sports Pod, he opened up about his training and preparation for next year.He feels that he could have dipped below 8:10.00 by now if he could have trained the same way for the last two years or so.However, for next year, he wants to start preparing right now. Basically, his season starts with off-season. “I want to start training and chalk out my programme for the off-season with the coach,” he said. “I  believe if I train like the way I trained this season, I will be able to run 8:05.00s or even  8 minutes. Since the World Championships is slated for next year, it will be crucial for me to prepare well.”

For Sable, next year will be quite hectic. “I took a few days off after the  Commonwealth Games. Though I  trained, it was not too intensive. Now, I  cannot lose much time. Since I was not in practice, competing at the National Games might be difficult. I know it’s a big event for athletes because it’s taking place after quite a few years, but sometimes we have to re-think. I will start the off-season training in a few days. Next season will be very important with the World  Championships and then the Olympics in  2024. We have to prepare from now. “

Sable is hoping to start his quest for that sub 8:10s from the Doha Diamond League next year. “I know I need good competitions and those competitions will be abroad,” he said. “I have to train and compete with athletes abroad because here, there is not much competition. If I do that I am sure I will improve my timing further.

“During practice (full season) I cannot devote time to anything so when I got time after the Commonwealth Games, I gave time to things that needed my attention,” he said. “We focus on building on endurance and run more. We take a closer look at our technique and find out the faults and rectify it. We focus on strength and develop our core and also see where all we faltered in the last season. Every off-season I run one or two half-marathons so I am looking at a couple this time also. There is Delhi  Half-marathon and I am thinking of participating there.”

He also wants to start an academy back home. “There is a huge talent pool from where I come from. So I am thinking to start the process as early as possible. Of course, I have to focus on my training and event but I think we can at least start the process,” he said. “If I start after three-four years, then the talent we have now among the junior athletes will not benefit. But if we can support them or help them in some way and motivate them towards the sport, then their development will be better. Then they can come to the senior level. Another thing is that for sportspersons like us, if we try and do other jobs, then we drift away from sports which is ingrained in our spirit. If we are on the ground and when we stop playing, then I will be connected with sports. That’s why I want to start an academy here.

“Earlier when we used to go (to competitions), there was no strategy to win, just follow the leaders. We usually focus on giving our best timings.  Now, next year will be about winning like we had done during the CWG. To do our best we used to run in the back but now we will be focussing on the win. Whether the  race is slow or fast we have to focus on  winning and for that we have to have a  very good preparation during the off-season.”

For the full interview listen to our Sports Pod

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