Photos: From Beed to Tokyo, Sable’s long, hard run

From growing up in a drought-hit village where his parents were daily wage labourers, to breaking nationalrecords and qualifying for the Olympics, Avinash Sable’s  journey to make it to the final of the 3000m steeplechase race at the 2019 World Athletics Championship and qualify for the 2020 Olympics.

UPDATED ON DEC 14, 2019 06:13 PM IST 8 Photos
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Athlete Avinash Sable during his training session at NIS in Patiala. “Working hard is in my blood,” Sable says. “Whatever memories I have of my childhood, most of it is seeing my parents’ struggles to feed me and my brother every night.” (Bharat Bhushan / HT Photo)

Athlete Avinash Sable during his training session at NIS in Patiala. “Working hard is in my blood,” Sable says. “Whatever memories I have of my childhood, most of it is seeing my parents’ struggles to feed me and my brother every night.” (Bharat Bhushan / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON DEC 14, 2019 06:13 PM IST
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Swinging a plastic bag filled with his books, Sable would run on. “Woh kehte hai na, God’s gift,” Sable says. “I have that with running. Whenever I used to run, people would say, ‘This boy never gets tired of running’.”His primary school teacher, Babasaheb Taware, was one of the people who noticed. When he was in the 4th standard, Sadashiv took Sable to a school athletic meet for a 1000m race. Sable came first. (Bharat Bhushan / HT Photo)

Swinging a plastic bag filled with his books, Sable would run on. “Woh kehte hai na, God’s gift,” Sable says. “I have that with running. Whenever I used to run, people would say, ‘This boy never gets tired of running’.”His primary school teacher, Babasaheb Taware, was one of the people who noticed. When he was in the 4th standard, Sadashiv took Sable to a school athletic meet for a 1000m race. Sable came first. (Bharat Bhushan / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON DEC 14, 2019 06:13 PM IST
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After finishing school, he returned home and enrolled in a college, hoping to pick up odd jobs after class to help his family—for a six-hour workday at a construction site, he earned ~100, he says. For all the change in his life, one old habit returned. Still without any form of transport, Sable began running again—house to college, and back—16km every day. (Bharat Bhushan / HT Photo)

After finishing school, he returned home and enrolled in a college, hoping to pick up odd jobs after class to help his family—for a six-hour workday at a construction site, he earned ~100, he says. For all the change in his life, one old habit returned. Still without any form of transport, Sable began running again—house to college, and back—16km every day. (Bharat Bhushan / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON DEC 14, 2019 06:13 PM IST
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“We were sitting in the mess, and some boys told me, ‘You run well, but cross country is not easy. You won’t be able to do it’,” Sable says. “That was my turning point. I wanted to prove them wrong. Bas, zid thi.” Even as his colleagues would begin their training at 6am, Sable woke up at 4 to run alone. The solo act would continue for an hour in the evening too, when everyone else would relax after the hard day’s toil. (Bharat Bhushan / HT Photo)

“We were sitting in the mess, and some boys told me, ‘You run well, but cross country is not easy. You won’t be able to do it’,” Sable says. “That was my turning point. I wanted to prove them wrong. Bas, zid thi.” Even as his colleagues would begin their training at 6am, Sable woke up at 4 to run alone. The solo act would continue for an hour in the evening too, when everyone else would relax after the hard day’s toil. (Bharat Bhushan / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON DEC 14, 2019 06:13 PM IST
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Sable ran his first inter-army cross country race in 2016, and immediately came under the notice of Amrish Kumar, the army’s long-distance running coach. Kumar picked up Sable to be a part of the army’s camp for the top 22 long-distance runners held in January 2017 in Hyderabad, where his running pathway took a dramatic detour. (Bharat Bhushan / HT Photo)

Sable ran his first inter-army cross country race in 2016, and immediately came under the notice of Amrish Kumar, the army’s long-distance running coach. Kumar picked up Sable to be a part of the army’s camp for the top 22 long-distance runners held in January 2017 in Hyderabad, where his running pathway took a dramatic detour. (Bharat Bhushan / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON DEC 14, 2019 06:13 PM IST
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So sure was Kumar about Sable that for the Open Nationals in Chennai in September that same year, he called up other coaches in advance and told them that he was bringing a boy who will leave everyone else behind. True to his coach’s words, Sable won gold with a timing of 8:39.81s. “His muscles and body physics,” explains Kumar. “His height is not that much, but if you look at the world’s top steeplechase runners, they’re not that tall. Sable’s muscles were long and strong, like a horse.” (Bharat Bhushan / HT Photo)

So sure was Kumar about Sable that for the Open Nationals in Chennai in September that same year, he called up other coaches in advance and told them that he was bringing a boy who will leave everyone else behind. True to his coach’s words, Sable won gold with a timing of 8:39.81s. “His muscles and body physics,” explains Kumar. “His height is not that much, but if you look at the world’s top steeplechase runners, they’re not that tall. Sable’s muscles were long and strong, like a horse.” (Bharat Bhushan / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON DEC 14, 2019 06:13 PM IST
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Sable set a new steeplechase national record at the 2018 Open Nationals in Bhubaneswar in September with a timing of 8:29.80s, erasing Gopal Saini’s 1981 mark. He has since re-written that record three more times; it now stands at 8:21.37s, which he ran in the final of the Doha World Championships in October to book his ticket to Tokyo. (Bharat Bhushan / HT Photo)

Sable set a new steeplechase national record at the 2018 Open Nationals in Bhubaneswar in September with a timing of 8:29.80s, erasing Gopal Saini’s 1981 mark. He has since re-written that record three more times; it now stands at 8:21.37s, which he ran in the final of the Doha World Championships in October to book his ticket to Tokyo. (Bharat Bhushan / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON DEC 14, 2019 06:13 PM IST
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Since he joined the army, Sable rarely finds time to visit home; but things have changed there. His parents do not have to do daily wage labour anymore; Sable has ensured a steady source of money. For Sable, the next few months will be lived the way he likes it—with the single-minded pursuit of a goal. “Ever since I qualified for the Olympics, I’ve set my mind on giving my life to it,” Sable says. “I want to put on a show that will create history for India. (Bharat Bhushan / HT Photo)

Since he joined the army, Sable rarely finds time to visit home; but things have changed there. His parents do not have to do daily wage labour anymore; Sable has ensured a steady source of money. For Sable, the next few months will be lived the way he likes it—with the single-minded pursuit of a goal. “Ever since I qualified for the Olympics, I’ve set my mind on giving my life to it,” Sable says. “I want to put on a show that will create history for India. (Bharat Bhushan / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON DEC 14, 2019 06:13 PM IST

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