Hima Das has decided to shift from her usual 400 m down to 200 m event this season; thus significantly reducing her chances to qualify for the Olympic Games in Summer. The Asian Games silver medallist and World Junior Champion will not be returning to 400 m until next year.
Hima makes the change to focus on speed and endurance training. She has already missed training due to a recurring fever, costing her three months starting from December. Prior to that, Hima had a setback in the form of a back injury and missed the Doha World Championships last year.
Hima won all five championships in Europe. However, they were won while competing with lower-ranked runners. Hima clocked her best 23.10 in 200 m in mid-2018. However, this is far from the Olympic qualification time- 22.80 seconds.
AFI Think Tank defends decision
According to AFI, the decision was made to reduce pressure on Hima qualifying for her favourite event. Hima has had a torrid year after setting the national record and Asian silver.
“It does not make sense to focus on the 400 meters this season because she does not have the basic conditioning level she needs,” the Indian Express quoted Athletics Federation of India (AFI) high-performance director Volker Herrmann.
“And in the 400 meters, you need a decent amount of endurance, considering that now there are only four and a half months till the end of the qualifying period for the Olympics. We didn’t want to make similar mistakes of the last season, and we didn’t want to force anything.”
“If we put her into 400 m competitions again there would be a lot of pressure. She is still young, and we don’t want to rush anything,” he adds.
Hima Das' personal best in 200m is 23.10 seconds, which was clocked in mid-2018 leaving her with a mountain to climb in order to meet the Entry Standards for the Games, set at 22.80 seconds. pic.twitter.com/c7VHIfaWjA
— Doordarshan Sports (@ddsportschannel) February 17, 2020
The AFI think tank which comprises chief coach Bahadur Singh, his deputy Radhakrishnan Nair, 400 m coach Galina Bukharin and Herman decided to shift Hima to 200 m.
Hima’s next appearance for India could be revealed in May. The young athlete has a chance to join the Indian relay squad which will compete against one of the top teams in the world in Germany.