Hima Das can raise the bar this year

Updated: Jan 01, 2019, 13:11 IST | G Rajaraman

Naser's best time (49.08 seconds) is 1.71 seconds faster than Hima's best. Significantly, Hima broke the 51-second barrier in her rookie season over 400m while the Bahraini was in her third season to go past this milestone

Hima Das can raise the bar this year
Hima Das

Her quest to enhance her basic speed will make for interesting watching in 2019. Hima Das arrived unannounced but quickly stormed into millions of Indian hearts. A nation seeking glamorous success in track sport embraced the girl with a trademark swag as a poster girl without pause, without hesitation.

Can Hima, 19, raise the bar in 2019? Of course, she has the potential. How well she deals with life away from the track holds the key to that question. She will have to run with the pressure of expectations that has been imposed on her by her performances in 2018. Having forced the spotlight with a good show in the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast and with the silver medal in the Asian Games in Jakarta, she has raised hopes among fans of Indian athletics.

One of her biggest goals should be to train smart and stay injury free through the year. It is another matter if she can sustain the improvement that she showed in 2018, sliding from 51.97 seconds in her maiden final to 50.79 seconds in the Asian Games final five months later. Her fans would be over the moon if she clips her best time and retains her blemishless record.

She is now training in Turkey, away from the celebrations and distractions that kept her away from track after the Asian Games. With the veteran coach Galina Bukharina in charge of a bunch of quarter-milers, Hima may yet improve her speed over the distance to add to her endurance that seems to delay the onset of folic acid longer than in case of other sprinters.

She will face two major pivotal points in 2019, the Asian Athletics Championships in the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha from April 19 to 24 and the IAAF World Athletics Championships at the same venue from September 28 to October 6. Her battle with Bahrain's Salwa Eid Naser, the diva of quarter-mile, can be quite explosive.

It will be interesting to see how she prepares to challenge Naser, owner of the Top 10 400m times by an Asian in 2018. Naser's best time (49.08 seconds) is 1.71 seconds faster than Hima's best. Significantly, Hima broke the 51-second barrier in her rookie season over 400m while the Bahraini was in her third season to go past this milestone.

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