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Avinash in 3000m steeplechase final after late night drama; Annu finishes 8th in javelin

Avinash in 3000m steeplechase final after late night drama; Annu finishes 8th in javelin

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.

"We filed an appeal and we have got a favourable decision. So, Avinash will be in the final. He has been included among the finalists," AFI Planning Commission Chairman Lalit Bhanot told PTI.

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 which he had clocked in March this year during the Federation Cup.

Annu, who on Monday smashed her own national record with a 62.43m throw, could only produce a best of 61.12m in the final round competition.

Competing after Avinash, the 27-year-old Annu opened with a 59.25m before coming up with efforts of 61.12m and 60.20m, which put her among the top eight after three attempts and gave her three more throws.

However, she could not improve upon her second round effort of 61.12m, coming up with 60.40m, 58.49m and 57.93m, to finish at eighth out of the 12 finalists.

2018 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Kelsey Lee Barber of Australia won the gold with a final round throw of 66.56m while the Chinese duo of Asian Games champion Liu Shiying and Asian champion Lyu Huihui took the silver and bronze with efforts of 65.88m and 65.49m respectively.

Annu, who belongs to badal village from near Meerut will, however, held her head high as she had become the first Indian woman to reach the javelin throw final in the World Championships.

"I have some technical faults and I will work on them and hopefully will do better. I am yet to qualify for the Olympic Games. I hope to make amends of my technical problems and qualify for the Olympics for which I have to throw 64m," Annu said after her event.

"The training in Europe helped me a lot, especially the stint in Czech Republic where I got a lot of chance to compete with top throwers and I got a lot of experience from there. Training under Uwe Hohn also helped in learning a lot," she added.

"I want to do well for the country and my ultimate dream is an Olympic medal."

Annu had failed to qualify for the finals in the last edition in 2017 in London where she had come up with a best throw of 59.93m to finish 20th overall in the qualification round.

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