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Avinash Sable, who defeated Kenya in the 3000m steeplechase at the Commonwealth Games. MPNRC News

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Walking through the mixed zone at the Alexander Stadium here, Kenya’s 3000m gold medalist Abraham Kibiwot was asked if he ever felt pressured by a young Indian chasing him.” I know the guy behind me (silver medalist Avinash Sable of India) and I know he’s not that fast. I wasn’t afraid of him, that’s why I controlled the race in the lead,” Kibiwot said.

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Well, Kibiwot may put on a brave face but for all who watched the race, it was clear that the Kenyan’s heart was in his mouth as he realized that Sable had a brilliant kick on him late on and was literally on top of him. He crossed the finish line just seconds ahead to claim the gold medal. Kibiwot is a very experienced racer who won a silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast and has also represented his country at the World Championships.

He clocked 8:11.15 while Sable crossed the line in 8:11.20, setting a new national record and personal best for Sable. The armyman from Maharashtra’s Beed district was also expected to run in a race dominated by Kenyans since 1994.

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But on Saturday, Sable was not bothered by the reputation or the number of Kenyans in the race (there were three) and finished his own race. 2018 Commonwealth Games 3000m steeplechase champion Consecellus Kipruto of Kenya, a Rio 2016 Olympic Games gold medalist and two-time world champion, finished sixth and Sable praised the way he outclassed him to win the silver medal.

Indeed, Sable was outstanding on Saturday as he became the first non-Kenyan athlete to win a medal in the 3000m steeplechase at the Commonwealth Games since 1994. Kenyans have won every steeplechase race in the last 10 CWG editions and claimed all the spots. Sable entered the podium for Kenya and came away with the silver medal.

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He also set a national record with a time of 8:11.20, his personal best, finishing second behind Kenya’s Abraham Kibiwot, who won gold in 8:11.15, tapping into some undisclosed reserves to close out the race in a photo finish. Power to produce a brilliant kick, literally finishing on Kibiwot’s heels. Kenya’s Amos Serem won bronze in 8:16.83 seconds.

Although he claimed the silver medal, Sable was not happy with his last lap and said it could have been better.” My last lap was a bit disappointing, but I’m really happy because India won in the long run. -distance medal,” he later told reporters.

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Sable finished the first 1000 m in 2 minutes, 40.5 seconds and the second in 2:47.2, while the third was slightly slower in 2:43.4. Sable said that although he was a little disappointed in his last lap, he made history on Saturday.

A Kenyan is tough to beat in the 3000m steeplechase, with Avinash Sable edging out two runners from the country to clinch the silver medal on Saturday. The abundance of his accomplishments soon dawned on him. But considering how far he’s come, the 27-year-old will find success as he prepares for his biggest dream – an Olympic Games medal.

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