The mystery of rising athletics star Hima Das’ participation at the upcoming IAAF World Athletics Championships, to be held from September 27 to October 6 in Doha, has finally unravelled.

Hima Das will miss, due to a back problem, it was confirmed on Wednesday via The Athletics Federation of India [AFI] twitter handle;

“Unfortunately 400m athlete #HimaDas will not compete at the @iaaforg World Championships 2019 #Doha2019 due to back injury.”

Are Hima’s Tokyo 2020 dreams over?

Earlier this month, the AFI had announced a 25-member contingent for the upcoming world meet. Hima, of course, was included for the 4x400m relay and 4x400m mixed relay events. However, in the days to come, the youngster’s participation would become a matter of intense speculation.

The mystery grew more intense after the 19-year-old was not included of the initial entries of Indian women athletes for the two relay races submitted by AFI to the IAAF for the World Championships.

Since competing at the Asian Games in Jakarta last year, Hima has been suffering from a back injury. Back in April, she pulled out of the 400m heats midway through the race at the Asian Championships in Doha. The reason cited was that she had suffered a lower back spasm at L4 and L5, two lowest vertebrae in the lumbar spine.

Then, during the preparation camp in Europe, having not completely recovered from the injury, the Junior World Champion ran just one 400m race. Reportedly, she was feeling pain while running longer distances.

In July, Hima hogged all the limelight by claiming five gold medals (four in 200m, one in 400m) at vague international tournaments in Europe. She continued her run in August, winning a gold medal in 300m. However, the Assam girl failed to qualify for the World Championships in 400m.

Last year, Hima had clocked a personal best (and national record) timing of 50.79s in 400m. But since her injury, her timing has only gone down. This season her best 400m performance was 52.09s.

And through all this, the coaches and officials of AFI kept giving a range of reasons from a simple back injury to chronic spondylosis/spondylitis to career-threatening degenerative injury in the lumbar region.

Doesn’t the vicissitudes of AFI’s numerous analogies and explanations about Hima — first a study break, then an injury — raise a few questions? Didn’t mismanagement of her injury eventually force her out of the World meets?

Hima has the potential to become the star that Indian athletics has been missing. At 19, she should be wrapped up in cotton wool and treated with utmost care.

Consider her importance to the sport in India. Her presence in the squad is enough to give the brand a better value and attract sponsors. After the injury scare, she should have been handled better.

Back in March, Hima’s coach Galina Bukharina said in an interview with the Indian Express that the youngster would require at least one or two years to get back to her best. According to 72-year-old coacj, the six-week gap Hima took was too much. She said:

“To stay at this height, she needs one or two years of practice again and will have to start from scratch. After all those races and the packed schedule, she decided to sit for her exams. Even though such things are not good in the middle of the season, it is still a long route for the Olympics.

“To keep your focus, one should have every thing in life settled. We allowed her a break of six weeks but believe me, six weeks is too much of time in an athlete’s career. When she rejoins the camp, we have to start from scratch.”

It now appears that Bukharina’s words might come true. With the recurring injury problem, it will be extremely difficult for Hima to get back to her best and qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Source: The Bridge