P.T. Usha has heaped praise on Hima Das for her courage and confidence stating out that her ability to push hard in closing stages of the race gives Das an edge over others. She also pointed out that Das doesn’t get overawed by others’ performances and remains focused that will help her in Asiad.
Hima Das has been crowned as India’s newest golden girl this month after storming to victory in the 400m event at the World U-20 Athletics Championships in Finland. The 18-year-old became the first Indian to win a gold medal at a global track event. The 51.46 secs, which she clocked in the final, has now put her among medal contenders at the Jakarta Asian Games.
Pretty much acquainted with pressure at the global stage, P.T. Usha, who ran the 100m in the 1980 Moscow Olympics as a 16-year-old before emerging as India’s flag-bearer on the track, saw Hima’s run first-hand as a coach with the squad. And she has pointed out that the teenager’s fighting spirit was what stood out in Finland and she was confident Hima has a bright chance for a podium finish in the Asian Games.
“At this age, she has exhibited great courage and confidence. I didn’t see any sign of nervousness during the event. The ability to push hard in the closing stages of the race gives her an edge. She doesn’t get overawed by the performance of others and remains focused. It will certainly help at the Asian Games,” she said in an interview as quoted by Hindustan Times.
The daughter of a rice farmer was spotted two years ago by a local coach, who recommended her to another, Nipun Das, in Guwahati and Hima has since made rapid strides in the national setup. Usha said Hima’s success at a young age had a lot to do with improved training facilities.
“In the early 1980s, top athletes hardly got the kind of exposure needed. I only got one international race before the (1984) Los Angeles Olympics. If I missed bronze by a whisker, it was due to lack of experience,” said Usha.
Usha, who is also running her academy in Kerala and training Jisna Mathew, another young 400m runner in the national relay squad, stated that there wasn’t a major shift in training methods since her days, but a masseur and physio with the squad mattered. Hima too built her strength running in fields and playing football as a young girl.
“After a hard training day, I used to massage myself. That meant her recovery was slow. I had to travel long distances to train on a synthetic track, which added to residual fatigue,” she said.
“These days top athletes are getting good facilities the moment they join the camp. It allows them to train hard over an extended period and recover faster.”
Raising concerns over India’s small pool of 400m runners, Usha said, “We have only two good 400m runners. The gap between the leading two runners (Hima and Jisna) and others is four-five seconds, which is a lot. If we have five-six runners clocking close to 54 secs, it will be a big advantage.”