In much-anticipated return, Hima could have 100m showdown with Dutee
- Barring a few smaller meets in Europe, Hima did not compete much in 2019 owing to a persistent back problem.
The much-anticipated return of Hima Das and her 100m showdown with Dutee Chand should headline the Indian Grand Prix II at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala, on Thursday.
Hit by a persistent back problem, Hima will return to track in 100m and 200m. She has stepped away from the 400m, the distance that made her a household name in India after she won the IAAF World U-20 Championships gold in 2018. Hima followed that up with three medals at the Asian Games in Jakarta the same year: an individual silver and two 400m relay medals. Her timing of 50.79 achieved in Jakarta is the 400m national record. But then her back played up.
Barring a few smaller meets in Europe, Hima did not compete much in 2019 and was on a long road to recovery. So, it will be an unfamiliar territory for Hima at the top level when she turns up for 100m and 200m.
"She used to compete in 100m and 200m before she made her mark in the 400m. She might take some time but she will do good in shorter distances,” said her childhood coach Nipon Das.
“In long races she was finding it bit difficult with the back injury so coaches in the camp have prepared her for 100 and 200m. Let’s see how she holds up in her first race in a long time.”
In 100m, Hima will have Dutee Chand, who has been unchallenged in the dash in domestic meets, as her competitor making for an exciting contest between two of India's leading sprinters.
There is a plan in place to have Dutee and Hima in the relay team as the two can drive India’s Tokyo Olympics qualification prospect in 4X100m.
Dutee is looking forward to strong competition from Hima. “She has a good height and if she can show good speed, there will be a good fight between us and both can benefit. In 100m, it is more about getting good competition and being pushed. It is her first race and she will get to know more about her speed over the distance only during a competition. There is a big difference between 400m and 100m,” said Dutee.
The 25-year-old Dutee, who holds the national record in 100m with 11.22s, clocked 11.51 in the Indian Grand Prix I on February 18. The Tokyo Olympics qualification time for 100m is 11.15 seconds. “My focus is to achieve the qualification standard. I will take part in this GP and then the Federation Cup in March.”
Compared to Indian GP I, there will be some other big names like long-jumper M Shreeshankar and shot-putter Tejinder Pal Singh Toor also taking part.