11 April 2018
Gold Coast. Hima Das showed no nerves in what was her first ever final at the Commonwealth Games, finishing sixth in the women’s 400m with a creditable time of 51.32seconds. 18-year-old Das, who had only began undertaking formal coaching about a year ago and only started running the 400m a few months back, performed impressively on the biggest stage of her career. Das in fact finished with an identical time as the fifth place finisher Maximila Imali but placed behind in the photo finish.
What was particularly impressive about Das was that she has showed consistent improvement over her short career. She had run the semifinal heat with a time of 51.53 seconds which lasted as her personal best for a little less than a day. On the day of the final, Das was running in the first lane of what was a world level field and stayed close to the chasing pack after former world champion Amantle Montsho had taken the early lead. Montsho’s gold was never in question as she clocked a time of 50.15 seconds with Anastasia Leroy taking second with a time of 50.57 seconds. Stephanie McPherson took third with 50.93 seconds. However Das stayed within touching distance of fourth place Christine BotLogetswe who finished just .15 seconds ahead of her with a time of 51.17 seconds.
While the medal might have been out of reach, Das certainly showed she will be a force to watch out for in the coming years.
Das was not the only young Indian in the final. Tejaswin Shankar had qualified for the final of the men’s high jump where he finished after clearing a height of 2.24m. Shankar who started strongly, clearing 2.18m with his very first jump, cleared heights of 2.21 and was one of seven jumpers who managed to clear 2.24m. However the height of 2.27m would prove too much for him on the day. Shankar, a 19-year-old college student at Kansas State University, had a personal best of 2.28m, recorded twice this year but fell just short of that at the Carrara stadium.
The gold in the event was won by Australia’s Brandon Starc, younger brother of Australian cricketer Mitchell Starc, who cleared a personal best of 2.32m while silver and bronze went to Jamal Wilson and Django Lovett who both cleared 2.30m with Wilson winning by virtue of clearing that height in fewer attempts.
Earlier in the day, two Indian athletes also managed to qualify for the final of the women’s long jump competition. Nayana James and V Neena managed to advance from the qualifying rounds after only four contestants managed to clear the automatic qualifying standard of 6.60m. James who has a personal best of 6.55m managed to clear 6.34m in her second attempt. Neena was not sure of qualifying until her final attempt when she managed to leap a distance of 6.27m to qualify in the 12th and final spot.