Asian Games 2018
24-Aug-2018 19:18

ASIAN GAMES 2018: All eyes on Hima, Anas in quarter mile

AFI Media
24 August 2018

New Delhi. All eyes will be on Hima Das on the track at the Asian Games. The 18-year-old is in the middle of a breakout season that has made amongst the brightest stars of the Indian athletics scene. Having only started training seriously last year, Das has steadily improved with each race. At the Commonwealth Games she set a new personal best of 51.32 seconds even as she finished sixth in the final of the women’s 400m. She would improve that performance at the Inter State Athletics championships with an time of 51.13 seconds in Guwahati. Her greatest achievement has been her gold medal at the World junior championships in Tampere, Finland. That victory was the first by any Indian woman at a world level event and the first by an Indian of either gender on the track.

Das will not have an easy task at the Asian Games. The favorite in the 400m will be Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser. The Bahrain athlete is a silver medalist at the 2017 world championships and has a personal best of 49.08 seconds this year.

Das and India will have a better chance in the women’s 4x400m relay on the final day of the athletics events. The relay is India’s most consistent events at the Asian Games earning gold medals at each edition since 2002. With no other Bahrain athlete matching Naser’s performance, India will be placed better to stand on the top of the podium once more. The team has specifically been chosen by coach Galina Bukharina to specialize in the event and barring an upset should continue their golden run.

India also has a strong chance in the mixed team relay which will be held on the 28th of August. In the inaugural edition of the event, two men and two women from each country will take part in the race. This means that the Arab countries who have strong men’s teams but not enough good women runners will be at a disadvantage. India apart from having a strong women’s 400m contingent also have two men’s runners who have clocked sub-46 second times this year.

The best Indian men’s runner Muhammad Anas has a strong chance of finishing on the podium on his own merit in the individual 400m race. The 24-year-old runner from Kerala shattered the men’s 400m national record with a time of 45.31 seconds in the final of the Gold coast Commonwealth Games.  Subsequently Anas improved that record to 45.24 seconds at Nové Město nad Metují in the Czech Republic in July. That result leaves him the fourth fastest runner in Asia this year behind Abdelalah Haroun, Abderrahman Samba and Mohamed Abbas of Qatar.

With Anas leading the charge, the Indian 4x400m men’s relay team also has a good chance of a podium finish. While Qatar will be favoured to take gold, India’s team can compete for the minor medals. They will look to improve on their time from the Commonwealth Games. At the Gold Coast India clocked 3:04:05 seconds which is the fastest by an Asian team this season and which would have been good enough to win a bronze at the 2014 edition of the Asian Games.