She has beaten the national record twice in two days but India’s newest sprint queen Hima Das said she was nervous ahead of Asian Games 400m final where she won a silver medal.
Hima clocked 50.59 seconds to win the silver, behind pre-race favourite Bahrain’s Salwa Naser who won the gold in a new Games record time of 50.09 seconds.
Hima, the reigning Under-20 world champion, had qualified for the final with a national record time of 51.00 seconds on Saturday, bettering the 14-year-old mark set by Manjeet Kaur (51.05) in Chennai in 2004, and she today bettered it again.
“You surely get nervous. They don’t see but only I know how nervous I get,” said the 18-year-old sprinter from a village near Dhing in Assam.
Naser, the Nigerian-born 2017 World Championships silver medallist and winner of four legs of Diamond League Series this year, did not have to exert much in the end to clinch the goal.
“She (Naser) is a big athlete, I am happy to compete with her and I learnt in both the races. I grabbed a bit about race technique bit it’s difficult to explain,” said Hima who finished behind the Bahraini in the preliminary heats also.
“She is perfect athlete, I started my career just two years. I played football and it helped in athletics. But she is World Championship medallist, I learnt a lot from her.”
Hima, however, said she does not think of reputation of a competitor when she steps on to the track.
“They are all good athletes. Good athletes will be there at good competitions but I don’t think about them, I just think of bettering my own time,” said Hima who has developed a habit of bettering her own mark in every subsequent race.
Asked if she knows how fast she can run in future or if she is close to her best, she said, “I am not sure how fast I can run.”
Asked to comment on her rapid progress in such a short time, she shot back, “What kind of question is this? We always think of bettering our mark.”
Hima said her coach Galina Bukharina did not prepare any special strategy for the final.
“It was tough competition, I knew, I am happy I bettered my mark. I was not confident but knew I will better by some margin,” she said.
She said she did not plan her final race today.
“When you run, you don’t think whether to run first 100m in such time and next 100m in such. There is no time to think. You don’t think who will be ahead or behind, you just run.”
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