Avinash Sable, who became the first Indian since 1952 Games, to qualify for the Olympics in the men's 3,000 metres Steeplechase event, owes his achievement to the Athletics Federation of India for their "prompt appeal" to the World body after he was obstructed twice during the heats that had intially put him out of the finals.
In an exclusive chat from Doha, Avinash told Republic TV:
"I owe it to the AFI. They helped me a lot. Its because of them that I have managed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. They had lodged an appeal in time after I lost place and timings in the heats due to obstruction and disturbance by other athletes. I am very happy now that I have qualified. That was the idea and target. So after infringement I lost precious time & position and could not finish in the bracket that qualified me for the finals. After a successful appeal, I could participate again and I got a chance again. So this time I had to get that required qualification target (timing). And I achieved that thanks to AFI." said Sable
Avinash came up with a credible 8.21:37 metres and managed to get the required Olympic qualification timing of 8:22 mins. The only Indian to qualify for Olympics in 3,000 metres Steeplechase was Gulzara Singh Mann who finished 12th in the finals with a timing of 9:48:60 mins at the Helsinki Games in 1952.
Long and middle distance coach Amriesh Kumar said in a video chat: "Had he not been disturbed twice, he would have come in the top six and qualified for the Olympics in the Heats only."
"Our training was very good and the our target was 8:20 mins and to get into the top six in heats. So its a matter of pride that he made history. So its not impossible to reach Olympics. We have done it & we will continue to do so in future."
Another good news awaited for Avinash as immediately after he qualified for Tokyo Olympics, he has been included in the Sports Authority of India's TOP scheme under Sports Ministry initiative.