Hima Das' Wins and the Furore: Instead of only Applauding, Talk about the Sport with Practicality

The internet almost broke with congratulatory messages and the wave of excitement washed away sensible analysis and encouragement on Hima Das’ achievements. What went wrong? Bodyandstrength.com takes a dig into this revealing news story.

Hima Das’ popularity rose exponentially throughout the nation and on social media because of her 5 gold medal winning spree in last 20 days. Well, hopes were raised and excitement was churned out on Dutee Chand’s performance (100m gold in 11.32 seconds) at World University Games at Napoli earlier this month. In both the cases, the videos went viral and congratulatory verses topped up with overflowing emotions were tweeted and posted on social media by top politicians, celebrities and the masses together.

All the success whether big or small is a reason for celebration and hard work must be appreciated and encouraged widely to bring out the best in the athletes. But going overboard with hopes of winning Olympic medal, requires analysis, facts and strategic preparation towards it. Let us see some of the mistakes we as common people do by not delving into facts and just sharing anything, magnifying anything on social media. The irresponsible approach doesn’t do any good but shows the world how much we actually care about the sport and our athletes.

In Das’ case, what was not shared on social media were the figures and the platforms where she has won. Hence, we decided to throw some light here. In the above meets across Poland and Czech Republic, Das competed in four 200m and one 400m races and won every one of them. Here are the details with timings:

  • July 2, Das bagged 200m gold in 23.65 seconds in Poznan.
  • July 7, she clinched 200m gold in 23.97 seconds in Kunto.
  • July 13, she again won 200m gold in 23.43 seconds in Kladno.
  • July 17, saw her win 200m gold in 23.25 seconds in Tabor.
  • July 20, this time she got 400m gold in 52.09 seconds in Prague.

It is indeed a matter of pride as she dominated the track and field international events these 20 days and put India first there even if the competition there was not of world standard. The first 2 meets, had club level athletes from Poznan and Kunto and none of them matched the personal timing of Das, so it would have been a shock if Hima Das would not have lifted the gold in those events.

What matters for International Association of Athletic Federations is the level of competition. It categorized to rank the events based on level of competition and rank athletes participating in it. Hence, 2 of Das’ meets were got an ‘F’ ranking, the lowest. The other 3 meets where Das won, were ranked ‘E’. Therefore, IAAF doesn’t recognize the events to be of world standard at all.

The 19-year-old hasn’t yet qualified for World Championships in September, which was perhaps her real test. Tokyo Olympics, hence, is a distant dream for India. Instead of hue and cry, what is needed right now is world level training and nutrition to all the promising athletes like Hima Das, to make it to the Olympics. Zero in all the areas where we are lacking and rectifying them. Because on the basis of her timings in 200m, Das will have to clock 22.80 seconds to even qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Our current national record is 22.82 seconds, and this means that she will have to break it. However, she has the nearest possibility of making it to the 400m instead where needed time to qualify for Olympics is 51.35 seconds and Das has already touched 50.79 in Asian Games. She has the proven capability to perform here.

But still from qualifying to facing the challenging atmosphere of Olympics to competing with top grade athletes from US, Europe, Jamaica and China – all the pressure factors have not been taken into consideration yet. This also takes integrated conditioning of an athlete which is done during top level training to prepare for such events.

Now when the facts have been revealed and discussed above, let’s see what went wrong on social media and what irresponsible posts we as over-enthusiastic public have been spreading. The video of Hima Das which went viral and most of the people including some of known names shared was not of her July 20 (Prague) win, instead it was of U20 games from last year! We didn’t know facts in the first place, we had almost zero knowledge of sport while talking about meteoric speed of Das and on top of that we were sharing the wrong old video claiming it to be of her most recent win! We must encourage with responsibility, knowledge and put efforts in the right direction to make the future better for the sport and the sportsperson. All the posts and encouragements and appreciations are hollow and of no use if they cannot collectively propel athletes into right direction. Instead of only applauding, we must talk about the sport.

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