Chennai† Star sprinter Hima Das Don’t rule out a return to the 400m, an event that made her famous in 2018, and hopes to make a comeback to the quarter-mile at the now-postponed Asian Games, likely to be held next year.
The 22-year-old ‘Dhing Express’ last ran a major 400m race at the Asian Championships in Doha in April 2019. She retired midway through that race due to a low back injury.
She later ran two 400m races in low-level events in the Czech Republic in 2019, but has not been seen in the one-lap race since then. She also missed the World Cup in the latter part of 2019 due to a back injury.
Hima, who was the first Indian to win a world track title by taking gold at the 2018 World Junior Championships, first suffered the injury at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, where she won an individual silver and gold medal. won the 400m in the 4x400m and mixed 4x400m relay.
After returning from injury, Hima ran 100 and 200 meters. She holds the national record of 50.79 seconds in the 400 meters.
“I didn’t cut off running the 400m. It (recovery from an injury) is a long process. During my stoppage time I was unable to run 400m because there was a lot of pressure on the right side of my back,” Hima said after winning gold in the 100m at the National Inter-Sate Championships here with her personal best of 10.43. s.
“My L4 and L5 (two lowest vertebrae in the lumbar spine) were fractured and in a different position. Every time I run, it hits me. Then I did my physical therapy and ran 30m, 40m, 50m, 100m and then 200m gradually. Up to 300 meters it goes well. I ran 300 meters in Europe a while ago.”
“You have to get speed in the last 100m (of 400m) and once I did I had to be taken to hospital (during a training stint in Poland in 2019),” said the Assam sprinter.
When asked when she can start running the 400m, she said: “Not at the moment, but definitely will (in the near future).”
“It could happen at the end of this year, otherwise I can prepare for the 400 meters for the postponed Asian Games because I get time to prepare (for the Asian Games).”
Hima had suffered the same injury last year during the National Inter-State Championships in Patiala. Due to an injury, she had to withdraw from the finals of the 100m and 4x100m relay. She ran in the 200m final but finished fifth to miss the Tokyo Olympics.
The Asian Games, scheduled to be held earlier in September this year, have been postponed due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in host country China. The Games are likely to be held next year.
When asked if 400m coach Galina Bukharina will recommend her to lead it, Hima said: “Mrs. Galina and the federation will decide what should be done for me. I will do what the AFI says.”
“Galina madam is not only my coach but she is also just like my mother. I even told my mother at home in Assam not to get tense when she thought of me because I have a mother there too (national camp).
Hima previously trained at NIS Patiala before temporarily moving to Thiruvananthapuram. She was part of the Indian team undergoing a training-cum-match tour in Turkey. The team returned home earlier this month.
Asked about the experience of running 100 meters in recent years, Hima said: “When I started athletics, I did 100 meters and long jump. It didn’t go together, so I ran 100 and 200 meters.”
“After being called up to the national camp (in 2017 after winning gold in the 200m at the National Open in Chennai), I did 200m and 400m. Now I’m doing 100m and 200m again. This is a process.”
“You have to be strong to be a sprinter and I had been dealing with injuries since 2018 (Asian Games). It was hard to get over my injury and get back on the track. But I learned a lot during this period. Now it is the best point in my life.”
“Sachin (Tendular) sir said an athlete and an injury are like friends. How to cope with that (injury) and move forward and get results is the challenge you have to overcome. His words inspire me.”
Hima contracted a COVID-19 infection in October last year. When asked about it, she said, “I was about to die (laughs). It was a serious and dangerous COVID infection.”
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