Star sprinter Hima Das has failed to qualify for Tokyo after running her final race with a grade 1 hamstring tear.
Going against the advice of her coaches and the Athletic Federation of India, Das took the track for the 200m event at the Interstate National Meet in a last-ditch attempt to book a berth for Tokyo. But despite her fearless efforts, she failed to qualify for the Games, which begin on July 23.
AFI President Adille Sumariwalla said the federation tried to prevent Hima from running but the final decision rested with the athlete.
“We advised her against participating but she is an adult and India is a democratic country. Her Tokyo dreams are all but over,” Sumariwalla told Indian Express.
Hima Das suffered the hamstring injury on Saturday while running 100m heats during the Interstate National Meet. Chasing the Olympic qualification mark of 22.80 seconds, the Assam athlete finished last clocking 25.03.
Kerala's Anjali PD came first, finishing the race in 24.01s, followed by Sri Lanka’s BIM Jayamanne (24.08) and Harika Devi of Telangana (24.64).
Tuesday (June 29) was the deadline for the Olympic qualification period for Athletics. World Athletics will publish the list of qualified athletes for the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.
Hima Das still has a chance to make it to Tokyo Olympics
Although unlikely, Hima Das could still be on the flight to Tokyo if the federation decides to send her as a part of the mixed 4X400 relay team.
The Indian mixed 4x400m relay team qualified for the Summer Games after reaching the final during the 2019 World Championships in Doha.
The team included Muhammed Anas, VK Vismaya, Jisna Mathew and Noah Nirmal Tom. However, Vismaya and Jisna's form has hit a slump.
The AFI might consider alternatives to send a strong relay team to the Tokyo Olympics. Hima Das, the current national record holder in the 400m event with a time of 50.79 seconds, is likely to be amongst the options. However, she will face stiff competition from Poovamma Raju and Priya Habba.
It is worth noting that Hima Das has not participated in 400m dashes since 2019 due to a back injury.
The AFI's selection committee will meet on Saturday to finalize the Indian team for the Tokyo Olympics.
Seema Punia qualifies for Tokyo Olympics
Meanwhile, veteran discus thrower Seema Punia booked her Tokyo Olympic berth with a throw of 63.72m on the final day of the Interstate National meet.
The 37-year-old had landed in Patiala from Minsk, where she competed in the Belarus Open Championship last week. She crossed the 60m mark on four of her five legal throws. It was the fourth throw that confirmed her berth at the Tokyo Olympics.
This will be her fourth Olympics after 2004, 2012, and 2016 editions.
“I know I can do better with my training but I was wary of aggravating my glutes muscle issue. I have worked hard since the Asian Games (2018) and am happy that I could confirm qualification,” Punia was quoted by PTI as saying.
The Tokyo Olympics will be her third competition since the 2018 Asian Games where she won a bronze. Punia will join current national record holder Kamalpreet Kaur on the discus throw team.