A mysterious lower-back injury restricted India’s 2018 World U20 400-meter champion Hima Das from competing a quarter mile in the 2020 and 2021 season.
Instead of the 400m event, the “injury” forced the 21-year old Assam sprinting prodigy to switch her focus to short sprints (100m and 200m). Returning to the longer sprint (400m) in the 2022 season looks doubtful, an Athletics Federation of India (AFI) official said.
“Hima competed in short sprints (100m and 200m) events in the 2021 season. She will continue to focus on both 100m and 200m in the 2022 season too,” the AFI official said. “She is attending the national camp in Kerala and practicing to polish her skills for short sprints races.”
On her way to winning an individual silver medal at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, Hima clocked an astonishing 50.79 seconds, a national record.
Nipon Das, the athletics coach during Hima’s formative years in Assam, claimed as far as he knows, she (Hima) is enjoying good health.
“In my opinion she (Hima) has fully recovered from the injury sustained at the end of 2018,” the athletics coach said from Guwahati. “But I have no idea about Hima’s selection of events for next year’s competition. The national coach overseeing her training will be able to shed more light on the subject.”
Radhakrishnan Nair, the chief national athletics coach wasn’t available for comment.
Hima Das has had success in the 400m track event in multiple championships
The Assam sprinter proved to be the most valuable asset for the AFI in the 2018 season.
At the 2018 World U20 Championships held in Finland, Hima became the first Indian to win gold in a track event (400m). At the 2016 World U20 Championships held in Poland, India’s Neeraj Chopra had won gold in the javelin event with a record throw of 86.48m.
Hima capped the 2018 season with a brilliant run at the Jakarta Asian Games. She won an individual silver medal in the women’s 400m. Her two other gold medals were in longer relay events.
India won gold in the women's 4x 400m and mixed 4x400m relay. The mixed 4x400m relay was introduced for the first time at the 2018 Asian Games.
At the beginning of 2019, Hima complained of lower back pain. She even quit the 400m race half way through at the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha.
Despite having the best of facilities, Hima’s low back pain persisted throughout the year. She still competed in low key track events in Europe, but failed to qualify for the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships.
Hima switched to short track races (100m and 200m) in 2020. She was also a member of the national 4x100m relay team in 2021. However, the relay team couldn’t qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
“We hope she (Hima) makes a good impression in short track races in the 2022 season,” said Nipon.