Hima Das' injury mystery likely to continue for long

AFI chief Adille Sumariwalla says if Hima, who has been fighting back issues, is unable to take the load of 400m she will be switched to the 200m category.

Hima Das had pulled out midway through the 400m with a back injury at the Doha Asians in April 2019.   -  FILE PHOTO/ GETTY IMAGES

She is the World junior 400m champion and the Asian Games silver medallist but nobody is sure whether Hima Das will be able to run the quartermile in a major international meet again.

Two years ago, when Das broke the 400m national record with a stunning 50.79s at the Jakarta Asiad, many wondered how long it would take for the young Assam girl to go below 50s. Just a month earlier, Das had won the under-20 Worlds gold in Finland, the first Indian woman to do so.

But something snapped last year. Das pulled out midway through the 400m with a back injury at the Doha Asians in April 2019 and though she ran two quartermile races in the Czech Republic, she was mediocre by her standards, clocking 53.07s in her last race in August and missed September's Doha Worlds.

Strangely, the back injury did not appear to trouble Das in the 200m, she won five races last year in Poland and the Czech Republic.

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Almost a year has gone by, so will Das – now 20 – be fit for the quartermile this year?

“We don't know, she started three weeks ago, we will have to see how she responds to training. She had a lot of issues with her back. Though she has been treated now, we will have to see when she actually takes the load whether she can run the 400m. If she can't, we will switch her to 200m,” said Athletics Federation of India president Adille Sumariwalla in a chat with Sportstar.

“She's got the speed to even run the 100m, whether we will put her there time will tell. The federation is doing what is in the best interest of the athlete. And there are times when I have to hold back on certain things.”

“Till I know the full results, I’m not going to give any explanation to anybody. I don't owe an explanation to anybody, I owe it to the athlete. There is also something called ‘athlete privacy’,” said Sumariwalla.

“I will protect my athlete’s privacy about the injury or whatever it is. Nobody has a right to know.”

But surely her fellow quartermilers would want to know.

“The other 400m runners know everything. They live together, they eat together, they know exactly what happened. And they will not tell you. They protect each other's privacy,” said the AFI chief.

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