In a blow to India's campaign in the Asian Athletics Championships, sprint sensation Hima Das suffered a back muscle spasm during the 400m heat race on the opening day in Doha on Sunday. The 19-year-old world junior champion and national record holder did not finish the heat number one which was won by Nadeesha Ramanayaka of Sri Lanka. "She had spasm at L4 and L5 (two lowest vertebrae in the lumbar spine). The doctor who attended her informed us and he said nothing serious. She will be OK within a day or two," deputy chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair said in a statement.
The injury has put Hima's participation in the women's 4x400m relay and mixed 400m relay on the final day in doubt though Nair said it was not a serious injury. It is learnt that the injury cannot also be dismissed as a minor one and whether Hima will take part in the women's 4x400m relay and mixed 400m relay will be decided in a day or two.
"You cannot just dismiss the injury to be a minor one also. So, we have to see her condition tomorrow or Tuesday and take a call after that. Fingers crossed and let us see," a well-placed source told PTI.
The Assamese runner, who had spoken about being troubled by a back problem on and off, was not expected to win the gold in the quarter mile event, but was a medal contender. The impact of Hima's absence, if it happens, will be felt in the women's 4x400m relay race in which India has historically dominated and is a strong gold medal contender in this championships also.
Hima has a personal best of 50.59 seconds though she has not been at her best after she took a break to prepare for her exams before coming back to win the Federation Cup in 52.88 seconds last month.
Bahrain's Salwa Naser, who was second in world list last year with a 49.08 seconds, is the overwhelming favourite to take the gold. She had beaten Hima comfortably in the Asian Games 400m final. Naser won the heat number two in 52.29 seconds, ahead of India's M R Poovamma