Hima Das missed out on the women’s 200m final by a whisker at the Commonwealth Games. The athlete from Dhing in Assam clocked 23.42s in the semifinals - 0.01s slower than Australian Ella Conolly’s automatic qualifying time of 23.41s.
A bout of injuries followed by the COVID-19 infection last year prolonged Hima’s struggle of a comeback, and in the Commonwealth Games, it was indeed a so-near-yet-so-far moment for the Indian athlete. But taking disappointments in her stride, Hima has now set her sights on the National Games, to be held in Gujarat next month.
“The Athletics Federation of India is looking after my training. At the moment, I am focusing on the National Games and eventually, I will start preparing for the Asian Games. I have trained quite a bit over the last few months due to the Commonwealth Games, so currently I am on a break and will slowly get back into the groove soon,” Hima told Sportstar on Monday, on the sidelines of a partnership event between HSBC and the Athletics Federation of India.
The HSBC will be helping the AFI in promoting women’s athletics and Hima feels it is a path-breaking initiative. “I am glad that the focus is on the grassroots. Had there not been the support of some good people, I wouldn’t have been able to come so far. So, I know the importance of focusing on the grassroots and for that only government support is not enough. We need the private sector companies to come and help us and I am happy that such an initiative has been taken so that we can unearth more talents at the grassroots,” she said.
Some of the top athletes are expected to feature in the National Games this time around and Hima is looking forward to some thrilling competitions. “It is a good thing that so many athletes will be featuring in the National Games, it will eventually boost India’s medal hopes in the upcoming tournaments as the athletes will be raring to go,” Hima said.
“It will be fun to see so many athletes taking part in the National Games and I appeal to all the citizens of this country to come and watch the Games and support the athletes. If each and every state receives support from the fans, it will encourage the athletes to perform even better…”
The next few months are going to be challenging for Hima and she wants to set ‘shorter targets’ and fulfil them one by one. “For me, every tournament is important. I will try to perform in each and every opportunity. In the Commonwealth Games too, it was great learning. I was returning to the track from a long injury, so I took things in my stride and counted on the positives,” she said.
“I may not have won medals, but competing against African athletes was a great experience. I watched them closely and the CWG also taught me the importance of life and how much it matters for an athlete. Going forward, I will keep these things in mind and work accordingly,” she said.
Over the next few weeks, she plans to spend time at home and slowly get into the training mode for the National Games. After clinching gold at the 2018 World Juniors, Hima became a 400m sensation, but injury forced her to stay away from her pet event and focus on 200m.
In Birmingham, a medal eluded Hima, but by her own admission, it taught her a lesson of a lifetime on the importance of time and how an athlete should never give up.