Athletes in action during the steeplechase
Athletes in action during the steeplechase

Doha: India's Avinash Sable qualified for the men's 3000m steeplechase finals under dramatic circumstances while Annu Rani failed to repeat her impressive qualifying round form to finish eighth in the women's javelin throw in the World Athletics Championships here. The 25-year-old from Mandwa in Maharashtra thus became the first Indian man to reach the finals of a track event in the World Championships.

Avinash initially failed to qualify for the finals despite bettering his own national record in an eventful first round heat but was later included among the men's 3000m steeplechase finalists after the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) successfully protested that he was obstructed by other athletes during the race on Tuesday.

He clocked 8 minute 25.23 seconds, bettering his earlier national record of 8:28.94, to finish seventh in heat number 3 and 20th overall out of 44 athletes who completed the race. He was involved in two incidents during the race that blocked his path and thereby slowing him down for no fault of his.

The AFI later filed an appeal, claiming that Avinash was obstructed by other athletes during the race, with the request that he be advanced to the final round.

One hour later, the race referee, after examining video footages, agreed that Avinash was significantly obstructed on two occasions. India's protest was accepted and under Rule 163.2 (Obstruction), Avinash was included for the final to be held on Friday.

There was no change in Avinash's position but he has been added as the 16th competitor for the final race. The top three in each of the three heats and the next six fastest qualify for the final race.

Both the incidents were triggered by reigning junior world champion Takele Nigate of Ethiopia. In the first, Avinash had to jump over another competitor as four-five athletes at the rear fell over each other.

Midway during the race, Nigate bumped into an obstacle just in front of Sable. The Indian had to virtually climb up the obstacle as he was blocked by the Ethiopian, thereby losing crucial time.

Despite slowing down due to the two incidents, Avinash ran more than three seconds better than his earlier national record of 8:28.94.

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