Hima Das not yet fully fit as India’s relay hopes take a hit
The chances of the Indian women’s 4x400m relay squad sealing an automatic berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have suffered a blow, with key runner Hima Das still in recovery from a back spasm as the two-day World Relays begin today at Yokohama, Japan.
Saturday will feature the heats for all the key races at the World Relays, where the finalists for Sunday—the top 8 nations—will get a direct entry to the Olympics. The top ten finishers will qualify for the Doha World Athletics Championships starting September 28.
The Indian women’s team’s fortunes largely hinge on Das’s performance. She has a personal best of 50.79 seconds, clocked at the Jakarta Asian Games in 2018, though of late, she has been struggling to dip below 52 secs.
According to deputy chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair, the teenager from Assam has started training, but whether she would race in Japan is undecided.
“She isn’t 100 percent fit,” Nair said. “Of the six athletes in the team, Galina Bukharina (chief coach) will take a final call on Saturday which four will compete.”
Athletics Federation of India (AFI) was hopeful that VK Vismaya, another regular runner in the squad since 2018, would break the 52-second barrier in the build up to the Yokohama competition. However, the promising Kerala runner’s season best is 53.27 secs.
With Das’s national record breaking performance in 2018, hopes had been high for the 4X400m squad.
The AFI is now likely to field the same set of runners that won silver at Doha: Prachi, MR Poovamma, Saritaben Gayakwad and VK Vismaya.