Sprinter Hima Das (second from left), along with other members of the Indian mixed 4x400m relay team that won a silver on Tuesday  Credit: Twitter

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Guwahati: If you’d have watched an otherwise calm and composed Hima Das ahead of the semi-finals of the women’s 200m event on Tuesday, you’d have noticed something amiss. Moments later, there comes an announcement that she has been disqualified due to a ‘false start’.

Although the 18-year-old sprinter from Assam goes on to win a silver as part of 4×400 mixed relay team, a Facebook Live video posted by her later in the evening reveals a different side to the story. In the video, Hima and her coaches said that she was under tremendous pressure to perform and blamed two persons for some comments that they made and which eventually led to her disqualification in the 200m event.

The day started on a rather unhappy note after Hima finished seventh in the overall standings of the women’s 200m heats. However, the Assamese sprinter earned a berth in the semi-finals as she was ‘one of the fastest losers in the heats’. Then what happened in the semi-finals at GBK Main Stadium later in the evening is history.

In the now viral post-match Facebook Live post, Hima has categorically pointed towards some people from Assam, who are allegedly working against her interests, and has blamed them for her performance. “Only because of them, my performance has been severely affected. My false start in the 200m event was only because of that,” Hima says in the video.

In the video, Hima also adds that this kind of attitude by a certain section of society will adversely affect the newer generation of players in the future.

“Usually, I don’t give any attention to such issues. But since I am new to this platform, such things affect performance. Even if you ignore it, these issues automatically come to your mind,” she laments.

Meanwhile, a local news channel of Assam aired an ‘exclusive’ news item on Monday night in which it said that Hima’s urine samples were collected ahead of the 200m semi-final run. “Isn’t it a tactic to impose pressure on this 18-year-old athlete ahead of the crucial match?” the channel asked. It also questioned the views of officials of the Athletics Federation of India and experts from Guwahati, who termed this collection of samples as a routine exercise. “If it’s a routine test, why were only two players from the huge Indian contingent targeted for the dope test?” the channel questioned.

Even, as per standing rules, an authorised agency can randomly test any accredited athlete of any team without any suspicion or whatsoever.

When contacted over phone from Indonesia, Nipon Das, Hima Das’ coach, said that he’s not much aware about the incident. “Hima was not happy with some development. She was a little bit upset yesterday (Monday) and she spoke about that. Now, everything is normal and she is concentrating on her performance,” he added.

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