Hima Das is out of individual events of IAAF World Athletics Championship to be played at Doha from September 27 as she has failed to qualify leaving the Athletic Federation of India in a quandry to field her in the team event or not.
A section of the Athletic Federation of India want to field her in 4×400 team but that exposes her poor individual form this year. If she is fielded in the team event, the cover of injury will be blown away.
On the other hand, the other section of the Federation want to keep her under injury wraps so that she could be groomed for a longer time, beyond the Tokyo Olympics.
The truth is that throughout the year, after Asian games 2018, she has been in poor form and not lived up to her expectation and not ran below 52 seconds despite the hullabaloo around her six European medals which were from very sub-standard competitions.
Friday (September 6) is the last date of qualifying as the World Championship starts from September 27. As of now, there is no competition for Hima in the horizon.
“There will be no more competitions for the women quarter milers. They are all in the loading phase and will not participate any more till the Worlds,” an AFI official confirmed.
The qualifying time for the World Championship was 51.80 secs for 400m and that was supposed to be an easy pick for Hima as she had clocked 50.79 at Jakarta Asiad one year back.
But the whole subsequent year she could not progress and her best of this season was 52.09 sec which was well short of the qualifying marks. her last run in August 24 atCzeslovakaia was 53.07 secs.
The top-eight finish in Doha will ensure a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics, which means no entry for Hima in the individual events of Tokyo Olympics too. But a section of Federation tries to tell that Hima is recovering from injury.
“Yes there is a back problem, especially during long training sessions, but we need to assess the extent of it. It is not a new injury, though, as is being said. Also, there is no spondylitis as reported, which is an inflammation of the vertebra. What Hima has is spondylolysis, which is a degenerative stress fracture and needs more rehab than anything else,” the official added.
However, national coach Radhakrishnan Nair denied all rumours of Hima’s fitness. “She ran the 400m as recently as August 24 in the Czech Republic (she timed a disappointing 53.07s) and before that in July also. I refute any injury concerns,” Nair told Sportstar.
“The reason we are not looking at her participating or trying to qualify for the individual event is that we are trying to actually get a medal in the relays, especially the mixed event. Our main target is to finish in the top-eight in relays at Doha so that we don’t have to run around for Tokyo qualifications for the next year. That is a priority and we want her at her best for them,” he further said.
Federation sources, however, claim that there was little realistic hope of Hima managing to qualify in the 400m given her average timings this year. “Even if she manages to do so, there is little or no chance of her managing to cross the preliminary stage even. In such a scenario, there is little sense in trying to load her with an extra event,” they remarked.
Hima has run only two 400m races since the Federation Cup in March — she pulled out at the Asian Championships — and not gone under 52 seconds. However, her current situation puts a question mark yet again on her presence overseas for several months for training.