Rising Indian athletics star Avinash Sable aims for national 5000m record

Avinash Sable, Indian Olympian in Tokyo and 3000m steeplechase specialist, has a knack for breaking track records. Since 2018, he has improved the national steeplechase record half a dozen times.

Last month, the 27-year-old from Maharashtra further improved his own national steeplechase record. In a national meet, he clocked 8:16.21 to better the 8:18.12 time set last year at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

This week at the 25th National Federation Cup athletics competition in Kozhikode, the up-and-coming track runner set his sights on the men’s national 5000m record of 13:29.70 set in 1992 by Bahadur Prasad in Birmingham . The 5,000m race is scheduled for Wednesday, the last day of competition.

Even more surprisingly, Sable has never attempted a 5000m track race in the past. If he achieves his goal, he will be the first Indian to hold both a 3000m steeplechase and a 5000m record.

The army runner competed on the Indian road racing circuit ranging from 21km to 25km distance but the 3000m steeplechase was his favorite event on the track. Since October 2018, each time he sets foot on the track, the level of the steeplechase has improved.

Sable holds the national record of one hour and 30 seconds over 21km set in 2020. He was the first Indian runner to beat 61 minutes over 21km.

According to the senior national track and field coach, Sable’s current form holds out the possibility of erasing the long-standing national mark in the 5,000m. “In my opinion, Sable has the potential to clock under 13:30 seconds for the 5,000m track race,” the athletics coach said. “It will be an exciting race as the peloton is strong in the 5000m.”

Abhishek Pal and Govindan Lakshmanan are at least two runners in the group who clocked less than 14 minutes for the 5000m. “Pal or Lakshmanan are good riders and serious podium contenders. But that depends on their race strategy for Wednesday’s track race. Whether they go all out from the start or play a waiting game and pounce on the last lap, the Athletics said.

Amrish Kumar, a former national coach, said Sable might have the potential to break new barriers in obstacle course racing, but 5,000m track racing is different. Kumar, who had also been Sable’s coach since 2016. He added: “There is a possibility of a good time in the 5000m race if the leading group of athletes push themselves. If Sable runs solo, it will be a tough task to break the 5,000m record.”

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee

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