Indian 3000m steeplechaser Avinash Sable’s hopes for top-level international competition has got a boost with the event being included in the elite Diamond League circuit of World Athletics for the next season.

It will help Sable, 26, test himself against strong opposition in Europe as he builds up for next year’s Tokyo Olympics, his coach Amrish Kumar said.

After the pandemic forced many events to be removed from Diamond League, the circuit is expected to feature as many as 32 disciplines in the 2021 season. “Competing in the prestigious competition will give a big boost to his (Sable) confidence,” Kumar said from Sable’s training base in Bengaluru.

The Army runner broke the steeplechase national record twice at the 2019 Doha world athletics championships. He clocked 8 min, 21.37 secs in the final, coming 13th among 16 runners while going under the Tokyo Games qualification mark of 8:22.

His coach said: “Sable is running better than last year.”

Sable demonstrated his fitness at the Airtel Delhi half marathon on November 29, setting a national record by clocking 60 min,30 secs to finish tenth. It helped him test his stamina and basic preparation in a pandemic-hit season with hardly any competition.

The Diamond League season was restructured due to the pandemic with the series shortened and some events dropped, Athletics Federation of India (AFI) president, Adille Sumariwalla, pointed out.

World Athletics and Diamond League organisers decided on Friday to restore the full complement of 32 events, including 3000m steeplechase and 5000m, for next season. The series will be held from May to September in 12 countries. The final is scheduled for early September in the Swiss city of Zurich.

AFI has also planned a training-cum-exposure trip for Sable. It has sent a proposal to Sports Authority of India (SAI) seeking financial help, to send the runner to Belarus to train until the Olympics. “Once he is based in Europe, it won’t be difficult to travel for competitions within the continent,” Sumariwalla said.

AFI will draw a road map for the other top athletes as well, including Asian Games javelin champion Neeraj Chopra, to compete in the Diamond League. “We’re hoping the next season starts on a positive note,” he added.

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