Hima Das has set the internet on fire with the golden run that lasted around three weeks. During the period, she did little wrong and in the process, won five Gold medals, a feat almost unheard in track and field history of India and deservingly perhaps, she is the golden girl of India.
Das's achievements have been raved about, appreciated and forced the whole nation to stand up and take notice of a potential medallist in Olympics, something that India die-hard for. Expectations from the 19-year-old are sky high. From winning hearts now, Hima is being touted as India's torchbearer in the 2020 Tokyo Games. All that is fine and for a youngster to be recognised and celebrated in a field that is not cricket in India is a big achievement but then comes the question... is it fair just yet?
Hima showed potential in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast as India bagged Gold in 4x400m relay and the Dhing Express as she is nicknamed, took it a notch further with a Silver in the 400m finals with a time of 50.79 and broke the National Record in the process, which was previously set by Manjit Kaur (51.05s) in Chennai in 2004.
19 days - 5 gold medals - 1 golden girl ! Congratulations @HimaDas8 ! You are an exemplary example of solid grit & determination & a huge inspiration to young girls 👏💪❤— Anushka Sharma (@AnushkaSharma) July 22, 2019
India is very proud of @HimaDas8’s phenomenal achievements over the last few days. Everyone is absolutely delighted that she has brought home five medals in various tournaments. Congratulations to her and best wishes for her future endeavours.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 21, 2019
T 3233 - Hima Das .. the pride of India .. to the Moon and beyond .. indeed but we need to add another Moon for she has done 5 now .. AMAZING !!🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳👍👍👍👏👏👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/bE18xU0PSx— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) July 21, 2019
Since then, Hima's rise has been steady. It has been all about hard work and graft and the results are finally here for show. But, a little digging would prove that all that glitters is not gold.
Hima's run to glory began on July 2 with a 20m gold in the Poznan Athletics Grand Prix in Poland and that was followed with a 200m gold at the Kutno Athletics Meet five days later in the same country. A week later, she won her third gold on July 13 at the Kladno Athletics Meet in the Czech Republic with her fourth coming four days later in a 200m race at the Tabor Athletics Meet in Czech Republic again. She capped it off with the fifth gold medal at the Nove Mesto nad Metuji Grand Prix in a 400m run.
But, if you look at the timings clocked, a different story comes into the forefront and that is why we say the nation should hold its breath just yet.
At the Poznan Athletics GP, her timing was 23.65 seconds and it went up to 23.97 seconds at the Kutno Athletics Meet. She did better though in the Czech Republic, where she clocked timings of 23.43 seconds and 23.25 seconds at the Kladno Athletics Meet and Tabor Athletics Meet, respectively, but come, Nove Mesto nad Metuji GP, she perhaps ran out of gas and finished with a timing of 52.09 (season-best) -- which is a fair bit less than 50.79 seconds, which is her personal best and way off the World Athletics Championship and the Olympics.
The qualification mark for World Championships is 51.80 seconds while for the Olympics, it is 51.35 in 400m and 22.80 seconds in 200m. So, as things stand Hima has failed to qualify for the World Athletics Championships as this was her last 400m event before the cut-off date of 6 September 2019. Therefore, despite all the success and deserving praise perhaps, she isn't even eligible to qualify for two of the biggest track and field events and events that Indians dream of being relevant at.
Another reason why Hima's achievements may fail to impress the best is because the level of competition she had in all the events are not as good or anywhere near as to hers.
In the race in Tarbor, the most experienced of the competition was nowhere near Hima on the basis of current form. She raced against World No. 234 (Klara Seidlova), World No. 464 (Martina Hofmanova) and Monika Weigertova, who is at a far off ranking of 931.
And, the previous three races also tell you the same story.
The moral of the story is -- Hima's achievements are no mean feat but the hoo-hah around her and the 'Olympic Dream' that the nation has started to believe in, is a bit premature. Hima is doing everything right and within her capabilities to make a mark in her field and make the nation proud and in return what around 2 billion people can do is to stay calm and back her and not put pressure with over the top celebrations and reactions. Because, the potential is there and if harnessed properly, India could have an asset that will keep on giving for years to come.