Star sprinter Hima Das clinched the gold in the women’s 400m race in the Federation Cup on Monday. Despite the achievement, she narrowly failed to qualify for the Asian Championships on the final day of the competition. Meanwhile, Heptathlete Swapna Barman qualified for continental showpiece after the winning seven-event discipline with 5,900 aggregate points.

Hima, 19, was on a one-month break from training since she was focusing on her Class 12th examinations. To claim the gold, the sprinter clocked 52.88 seconds, which is below her national record of 50.79. She couldn’t time it right and it is seconds more than the Asian Championships qualifying standard of 52.75 set by the Athletics Federation of India.

To claim the gold, the sprinter clocked 52.88 seconds, which is below her national record of 50.79.

For now, Hima gets the chance to make it to the Indian team for next month’s Asian Championship in Doha, scheduled to be held from April 26.  Her past performances give her a benefit here for the selection process. The selection committee of the AFI will meet on Tuesday to name the team. Her best timing so far was when she won silver at the Jakarta Asian Games with a timing of 50.79 secs.

“I took a break from rigorous training at the national camp due to my exams. I trained (in Guwahati) in between the exams, but I know I did not do proper workout and warm up during the break and so I was not at my best,” Hima said after the race.

“But I am free now and will be in the national camp. I hope to keep improving my timing,” said the athlete from Assam.

Talking about the injury, Hima said, “My back problem is still there. It happened while training outside the country and I thought it will be all right in India. But it is still off and on.”

Another girl from Assam Tundla Narzary bagged bronze medal in the women shot put event in the same championship with a performance of 14.82m. Hima left behind seasoned M R Poovamma of Karnataka who brought home the silver in 53.15 while Saritaben Gayakwad of Gujarat was third with a time of 53.28.

“I took a break from rigorous training at the national camp due to my exams. I trained (in Guwahati) in between the exams but I know I did not do proper workout and warm up during the break and so I was not at my best.” Hima

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Previously, Hima stood fourth in her first race of the year on March 8 at the 3rd Indian Grand Prix. This year, she made it to the ‘Forbes India 30 Under 30’ list. She has also been appointed as the country’s first youth ambassador to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) India, recently.

Hima hails from a small village in Dhing, Nagaon, Assam. Last year, she clinched a silver medal in the women’s 400m final of the Asian Games, clocking 50.79 seconds.

In July last year, Hima proved her mettle by becoming the first Indian woman to win a gold at the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championships, in Tampere, Finland. During the track events, the sprinter earned India’s first-ever gold, clocking 51.46 seconds in the 400-metre women’s final.

Feature Image Credit: IAAF / Twitter

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