Tokyo Olympics-bound Avinash Sable broke the national record while winning the Delhi Half Marathon gold among Indian elite runners, clocking 1:00:30 seconds to finish ahead of his compatriots by a long distance on Sunday.
The 26-year-old Sable, who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics 3000m steeplechase event during the World Athletics Championships last year, became the first Indian to run a half marathon under sixty one minutes.
Sable's commanding performance meant that he finished the race way ahead of his Indian rivals Srinu Bugatha and Durga Bahadur Budha, who finished second and third with timings of 1:04:16 and 1:04:19 respectively. Among Indian women, Parul Chaudhary, who had finished second last year, took the gold in 1:12:18 while Sanjivani Jadhav (1:13:00) and Komal Jagadale (1:14:04) were second and third respectively.
Sable, who hails from Maharashtra, was 10th overall, with Ethiopia's Amedework Walelegn winning the men's elite race in 58:53.
According to the Athletics Federation of India's official records, the earlier national half marathon record stands at 1:03:46 in the name of Maharashtra's Kalidas Hirave.
Sable also bettered the ADHM course record (among Indians) of 1:04:33 which was in the name of Bugatha, who won gold last year. Sable had previously finished second in 2018, behind Abhishek Pal, with a time of 1:04:14.
"I wanted to break the national record and stay as close as possible to the international runners during the race. I am happy I was able to do that," said Sable.
"I have not competed in any tournament for a year and I have been only doing practice, so I wanted to compete in an event. ADHM has certainly helped me to prepare for Olympics."
A farmer's son from Mandwa village in Maharashtra, Sable had clocked 8 minute 21.37 seconds to breach the Olympics qualifying standard of 8:22.00 seconds, while finishing 13th in the World Athletics Championships men's 3000m steeplechase final in Doha last year.
He broke his own national record twice during the World Championships and four times in 2019, making an improvement of nearly eight-and-a-half seconds over that time.
Sable, who is currently a havaldar in the Indian Army, also won a silver in 3000m steeplechase at the Asian Athletics Championships last year.