Hima Das, the World Under-20 champion in the 400 metres, has been diagnosed with spondylitis of the lumbar vertebrae, essentially the lower back, and the painful condition will require the 20-year-old to go through a period of rest and rehabilitation complemented by medication, it is learnt. Hima started training on May 5 with the rest of the 400 metres squad currently based in Yokohama for the world relays to be held this weekend, but there is no guarantee that she would take part.
If Hima is unable to run in the world relays it would be the second consecutive competition in which she would have not completed a race. At the Asian Athletics Championships held last month in Doha, Hima pulled out after getting off the blocks in the 400-metre heats.
The back spasm ruled her out of the women’s 4×400 metre relay and the mixed relay at the Asian event. Hima consulted a specialist in Doha who came up with the diagnosis of spondylitis in her lower vertebrae
“Hima Das has started training with the relay squad earlier this week. She will need to do some exercises and will also need some rest and rehabilitation as part of her recovery. Her progress is being monitored carefully,” deputy chief national coach Radhakrishnan Nair said.
Hima is likely to travel with the 400 metre batch of athletes to Spala, Poland, for an overseas camp where she will continue with her rehabilitation. However, Nair was non-committal when asked if Hima would be fit enough to participate in the World Relays. India has fielded the men and women relay teams for the event and a combined team will also participate in the mixed relays. The World Relays is an important event in terms of qualification for the World Championships in September-October and next year’s Olympic Games.
In late February she had taken a few weeks off to prepare for her Class XII examinations. She participated in the third leg of the Indian Grand Prix at Sangrur but finished fourth with a timing of 55.19 seconds, way off her personal best and national record of 50.79. At the Federation Cup, in mid-March, the selection trial for the Asian championships, Hima won gold with a timing of 52.88 seconds but fell on the track and clutched her back in pain at the end of the race.