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Athletics

Hima Das: Injury or just not good enough?

Hima Das' much anticipated return to competitive action turned out to be a damp squib.

Hima Das: Injury or just not good enough?
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Fans that stayed back to watch the 'Dhing Express' in action were disappointed (File photo: Getty Images)

By

Rahul Kargal

Updated: 2 May 2024 10:17 AM GMT

When the track-side announcer called out the names of athletes lining up for the women's 200m event at the Indian Grand Prix-1 at Bengaluru on Tuesday, the anticipation in the stands reached a crescendo.

A sizeable crowd had stayed back to watch one sprinter in particular - Hima Das.

Fans cheered as the athletes sprinted off the starting blocks. And as they made their way around the bend and into the final 100m stretch, the cheer turned into a roar, for Das was in contention.

Moments thereafter though, collective gasps echoed around the stands.

Das failed to complete

Just after the bend and as the pack gained momentum, Das began to fall behind.

With Kerala's Vismaya VK pulling away from the rest and West Bengal's Sonia Baishya in hot pursuit, the Assamese star quickly found herself way off the pacesetters.

Moments later, and much to the disbelief of fans in the stands, Das' sprint turned into a walk.

Injury woes?

Onlookers thought an injury had crippled her race. But connoisseurs, with an eye for detail, felt otherwise.

"She didn't want to lose. Because she saw that she was lagging, she stopped," said a former athlete, in a conversation with The Bridge.

The celebrated athlete and Arjuna Awardee, watching from the stands, felt that an athlete must complete the race.

"We never did those things. She thought she was not good enough. It's not an attitude (expected) from a top athlete, she should've fought till the end."

At the same time, Abraham cited other factors that could've hampered Das.

"I don't know how much she trained and I didn't follow where she was training. (Also) being suspended and not allowed to run, it plays on your mind," she said.

But fans, vocal by now in expressing their displeasure, had made up their minds.

"If she's not fit enough and knew that she could not complete the race, why bother turning up," said a fan.

And by the time the crowd came to terms with the disappointment and the big screen displayed Vismaya's 23.92s as the winning effort, their verdict was clear - Hima Das, a World U-20 champion - had deliberately pulled out midway through the race.

The sprinter refused to speak to this writer and walked away after her mandatory dope test.

What's next?

The 27th National Federation Senior Athletics Competition is up next on the track-and-field calendar and Das is eligible to compete after being cleared by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA).

That said, after the debacle at Bengaluru, it remains to be seen if the charismatic sprinter will turn up at all.

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