Dhing Express Hima Das loves the camaraderie between the experienced and up-and-coming women sprinters on the national scene. Having shifted her focus to shorter races, Hima, a former World under-20 champion in 400m and a three-time medallist (including two golds in 4x400m relays) in the 2018 Asian Games, feels that good bonding among the sprinters will help the 4x100m relay team shine at the world stage in the near future.
At the National Games, co-competitors Hima and Dutee Chand had encouraged Jyothi Yarraji prior to the 100m race, and the 100m hurdler acknowledged the senior athletes’ role in her performance.
“We, the relay team (Hima, Dutee, Srabani Nanda and Jyothi), competed in an elite event like the Commonwealth Games (and finished fifth with 43.81). Several top countries, barring the USA, were there. We will not take much time to touch the top level. 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 us. Jyothi is like my own sister. It feels good. One day we will make the (National) flag fly high,” said Hima.
Hima said the overall landscape of Indian athletics is encouraging. “Indian athletics is going up. Neeraj (Chopra) bhai took the gold medal in the Olympics, and I had won the World under-20 gold (in 2018). People get inspired from such results. The competition is getting tougher, and we are enjoying this because good athletes are coming from different corners of the country.”
On her performance at the National Games, Hima, who took the silver medal in 200m with 23.61 behind Archana Suseendran (23.06), said she was not well prepared.
“After the Commonwealth Games, I took some rest. Suddenly the National Games happened, and one cannot get a good performance with a short preparation. You need at least six months. I will give my best in the National Open meet even though time is very less.”
Hima, who was down with a back injury and Covid issues for two years, looked forward to doing well in the Asian Games. “Now the focus is on the Asian Games, and we have one year in hand,” she said.