Guwahati: Sprinter Hima Das’ struggles in 100m continued to haunt her at the season-ending 61st National Open Athletics Championships in Bengaluru as the ace Assam athlete finished a distant 8th despite being in the frame for a good 80m before slowing down palpably in the final stages.
At the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, 31-year-old Odisha’s Srabani Nanda (11.55s) trailed at the halfway mark but sustained her pace long enough to cross the finish line by a hundredth of a second from Himashree Roy (11.56s) of the Railways. Tamil Nadu’s Archana Suseendran’s timing of 11.58s was enough for her to ensure the third spot on the podium.
For Hima, who started with the shortest sprint before switching over to the 400m events, that fetched her the 2018 Asian Games gold medal, it isn’t easy to keep switching events, if experts are to be believed. Ever since the 2019 Doha Asian championship and a couple of lower competitions in the Czech Republic, a lower back injury has kept the star sprinter out of action in the quarter-mile event.
Earlier this year, the Dhing Express clocked her personal best of 11.43s to bag a 100m gold at the senior inter-state nationals in Chennai. Her effort was enough to leave behind the likes of Dutee Chand and Srabani. However, at the recently-concluded 36th National Games in Gujarat, she struggled in the event and eventually finished seventh after clocking 11.74s.
“I will give my best in the National Open meet even though time is very less,” Hima Das had told EastMojo on being probed about her inconsistency in the event.
Hima, however, isn’t much worried about her topsy-turvy show in the event, although she believes she needs to push herself further in the new season, which includes the all-important Asian Games.
“After the Commonwealth Games, all the national campers were given a two-month break. The new season will be very crucial for us, and the focus is on preparing for the shorter races, which also helps me in the 4x100m relay event.”
“One cannot get good performance with a short preparation, you need at least six months. Now the focus is on the Asian Games and we have got one year in hand,” she said.
Hima is happy with the camaraderie among the sprinters and feels that the bonhomie will help the 4x100m relay team to do well at the major international meets. “We need to maintain our chemistry because we have to make India the best team in the next four years.”
“As a responsible athlete, this is an effort to encourage the up-and-coming athletes to move forward. I am happy that the new athletes are listening to the seniors in the team. It feels good. The day isn’t far when we will make the (National) flag fly high,” said Hima.
Meanwhile, as the 61st National Open Athletics Championships enters Day 4 on Tuesday, Hima will aim for a podium in the women’s 200m event. Hima, who endured a heartbreaking finish at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham after missing out on the women’s 200m final by mere 0.01s, recently took home a silver medal from the National Games at the IIT Gandhinagar campus.
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