Social media has gone gaga after Hima Das won five European gold medals in July. Although the praises are well-deserved, but it also shows the lack of awareness many of us have about athletics. A prodigious talent, the 19-year-old from Assam is en route in making a comeback after suffering a back injury during this year’s Asian Championships in April. The good thing is Hima is personally not making a big deal about the medals she just won in Poland and Czech Republic.
#WATCH Poland: Sprinter Hima Das thanks people after winning 5 gold medals in different international championships this month. She says "These were warm up watches. I'm focussing on big championships like World Championship. Keep wishing&blessing me,I'll continue to perform well pic.twitter.com/zUiZyCljoh— ANI (@ANI) July 22, 2019
With her recent performances, Hima is being tagged as a 2020 Tokyo Olympics medal contender. But in reality, she is still far from her best form. The current turn of events shows our obsession with gold medals, with little care of analysis.
A World U-20 400m Champion, the youngster is still far away from meeting the qualification standard for the upcoming 2019 IAAF World Championships. The 400m qualification time for women has been set at 51.80 seconds. For the 200m, it is 23.02 seconds. Hima’s recent competitive timings in those races don’t meet that level yet. This is understandable, considering she is coming back from injury and will not be explosive during practice races. In 2018, Hima clocked a 400m personal best timing of 50.79 seconds.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has categorised some of Hima's recent races as ‘F’ grade (which is the lowest), meanwhile some fall under the ‘E’ category. Top athletes don’t go for such events until or unless it's for practice.
Also, you will never see an in-form world-class athlete competing in five sprints in three weeks. Hima’s current training procedure has been planned by India’s Russian-American quartile-mile coach Galina Bukharina. Such a method is being implemented as she is still in her road to recovery.
Currently ranked 87th in 400 metres and 122nd in 200 metres, Hima still has a long way to go and she has age on her side. Her displays since last year shows that Indian track performance is finally improving. Also, her overall ranking is 1250.
Going into the Qatar world championships, the Dhing Express till has a lot of work to do. In the 400, Hima Das will up against the likes of Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser and Jamaica’s Stephenie Ann McPherson. Both are way ahead of her right now in terms of timings.
Currently ranked as world no.1 in 400m, Naser is in fine form. In the 2019 Asian Championships, she clocked 51.34 seconds, grabbing the gold medal. Touted by the Indian media as Hima’s main rival, she has also been hogging the limelight in Diamond League. She won four gold medals in the span of May 18-July 5 in highly competitive races and is the favourite to win gold in Doha.
Also in 200 metres, Hima needs to work more, although it's not her main event. The reason behind her running a lot of 200m races recently is due to her recovery and rehabilitation process. In her last 400m race on July 20, Hima registered a season-best time of 52.09 seconds. Indian athletics’ High Performance Director Volker Herrmann, “Hima is progressing in the right direction. If you want to run sub 50 seconds (in 400m) you also have to be able to run sub 22.80 in 200m. She is getting closer.”
In 200 metres, the current world no.1 is Bahrain's Shaunae Miller-Uibo and the world no.8 is Gabrielle Thomas of the United States. The former’s personal best timing is 21.88, the latter’s is 22.19 seconds. Hima’s best timing in this event is 23.10.
Herrmann said, “All around the world, the athletes are facing the same problem. The coaches have to rush the whole preparation model. The athletes will need to peak twice, the first (peak) right now and second by the end of September.
“We are preparing a series of competition to raise our performance level and then we will continue on a slightly higher level with higher intensity towards World Championships”, he added.
Recently the youngster also 200k followers on Twitter, and thanked everyone for their love and support.
Hima still has a long road ahead of her before she can be called an Olympic medal contender. 2020 Tokyo looks out of her reach, but then Hima has the potential and desire to surprise. Fingers crossed.
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