Steeplechaser Avinash Sable smashed his own national record to qualify for the World Championships while sprint sensation Hima Das clinched the gold in the women’s 400m race in the Federation Cup here on Monday.
Hima, though, missed the Asian Championships mark on the final day competition.
Jinson Johnson and Rajiv Arokia won the men’s 1500m and 400m respectively to qualify for the Asian Championships. Heptathlete Swapna Barman also qualified for continental showpiece after the winning seven-event discipline with 5900 aggregate points.
The 24-year-old Sable from Maharashtra was the star of the day as he came up with a new national record time of 8:28.94 in the men’s 3000m steeplechase within six months of his earlier national record of 8:29.80 in September last year.
Sable’s rise has been remarkable as he shifted from cross country to steeplechase in 2017. He was with Belarusian coach Nikolai Snesarev when he created his earlier national record during the National Open Championships. He then parted ways with Nikolai and trained with Army coach Amrish Kumar.
Maharashtra’s Sable, who is currently a havildar in the Army, had trained earlier under Kumar.
“I had come here with the target of booking a World Championships berth [as well as Asian Championships]. I did it with a national record. It is very satisfying that I did well early in the season,” Sable said.
“I will target the Olympics qualification [8:22.00] in the Asian and World Championships. There the competition will be strong with the best in Asia and the world. I will be able to push myself,” he added.
Sable said he was hurt to learn that people thought he would not been able to set another national record.
“I was in the wilderness for two months after parting ways with Nikolai sir. I heard people saying that I will not be able to do another record. Today I have proved it that I can run 8:29. My timing can win a medal in the Asian Championships.”
Kumar said his ward has the potential to win an Olympics medal in future.
Meanwhile, 19-year-old Hima, who took a one-month break from training due to her 12th class examinations, clocked 52.88 seconds, which is well below her national record of 50.79. The timing was seconds more than the Asian Championships qualifying standard of 52.75 set by the Athletics Federation of India.
Hima, the reigning junior world champion in the quartermile event, is still likely to make it to the Indian team for next months Asian Championships on Doha, considering her past performances and her potential.
The selection committee of the AFI will meet on Tuesday to name the team.
“I took a break from rigorous training at the national camp due to my exams. I trained [in Guwahati] in between the exams but I know I did not do proper work out and warm up during the break and so I was not at my best,” Hima said after the race.
“But I am free now and will be in the national camp. I hope to keep improving my timing,” said the athlete from Assam.
Asked whether she was carrying some injury, Hima said, “My back problem is still there. It happened while training outside the country and I thought it will be all right in India. But it is still off and on.
Seasoned MR Poovamma of Karnataka took the silver in 53.15 while Saritaben Gayakwad of Gujarat was third with a time of 53.28.
It was also an easy win for Asian Games gold medallist Jinson Johnson in men’s 1500m, clocking 3:41.67 to cross the Asian Championships qualification norm of 3:46.00.
Ajay Kumar Saroj and Rahul, both of Uttar Pradesh, also crossed the Asian Championships qualifying time of 3:46.00 by clocking 3:43.57 and 3:44.94 respectively. But only two athletes from a country can compete in an event and the AFI selection committee will take a call on the matter.
“This is my first race of the season and I was just looking at qualifying for the Asian Championships. I have achieved that and I am all right with the timing also,” said Johnson from Kerala whose national record stands at 3:37.86.
Tamil Nadu’s Rajiv Arokia was the other athlete to breach the Asian Championships qualifying time as he won the men’s 400m race by beating national record holder Muhammed Anas of Kerala. Arokia clocked 45.73 seconds to better the Asian Championships qualifying standard of 45.85.
Anas, who clocked 45.89 for the second place, is expected to be picked by the selectors for the Asian Championships.
Kunhu Muhammed of Kerala was third with a time of 46.47.
National record holder Dutee Chand became the fastest woman of the meet by winning the 100m dash but failed to touch the Asian Championships qualifying time. She clocked 11.45 seconds while the Asian Championships qualifying norm is 11.40m. She has, however, qualified for the Asian Championships in 200m.
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