Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 29
Avinash Sable, who came to New Delhi to test his endurance, has left the capital with an enhanced reputation and a gold medal after clocking the fastest time by an Indian in a half-marathon.
Sable, the steeplechase prodigy, has been training for over eight months due to the pandemic-enforced moratorium on competitions. Keen to get his competitive juices flowing again, the man from Beed, Maharashtra, jumped at the opportunity when he was asked to compete in the Delhi Half Marathon.
A few tweaks in his training regimen a few weeks ahead of the race, and Sable was ready to turn heads, which he did today as he shattered the national record with a timing of 60 minutes and 30 seconds. Sable shaved over three minutes off the previous record of 1:03:16 held by Kalidas Nirave. In fact, if the 26-year-old had not eased off before the finish line, his timing could have been under an hour, a world-class effort. Sable’s power-packed performance can be gauged from the fact that last year’s winner of the Indian category, Srinu Bugatha, finished a distant second with a timing of 1:04:16, over three-and-a-half minutes behind Sable. Overall, Sable finished a creditable 10th.
Ethiopia’s Amedework Walelegn won the race in 58 minutes and 53 seconds. His countryman Andamlak Belihu timed 58:54 seconds to settle for a silver, failing in his bid for three wins in a row. Uganda’s Stephen Kissa (58:56) finished third.
“I came here on the back of some good training in Bangalore so I was hopeful of a good result,” Sable said. “My target was to clock below the 61 minutes mark and I am very happy that I was able to achieve today with a timing of 60 minutes 30 seconds.”
For a runner who has not competed in a road race event for over three years, Sable caught everyone by surprise as he kept pace with the leading pack that included Walelegn and Belihu. “I am very happy about today’s results. I used to love road running and I used to take part in marathons until 2017. But I stopped participating once I started to focus more on steeplechase,” Sable said.
In the elite women’s category, Ethiopia’s Yelemzerf Yehualaw ran the second-fastest time as she finished in 1 hour 4:46 seconds. Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich recorded her personal best of 1:05:06 to end up second, 15 seconds ahead of Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh. Parul Chaudhary won the Indian women’s category in 1:12:28, ahead of Sanjivani Jadhav (1:13:00) and Komal Jagdale (1:14:04).