Hima Das, the reigning junior world champion in 400m, is yet to qualify for the postponed Tokyo Olympics and the international season has been suspended till November 30 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am not worried about it (Olympics qualification), it will only create tension. There is a year still to go for the Olympics,” Hima said in an interview from NIS Patiala.

“Let us first pray that this pandemic ends quickly. Then, the athletics season begins (on December 1) and there is a lot of time next year to qualify for the Olympics,” she said, exactly two years after she won the gold in the World Junior Championships in Finland.

The 20-year-old Hima, known as “Dhing Express”, had become the first Indian woman to win a gold in a World Championships. She holds the national record (50.79 seconds) in 400m.

A lower back injury has been troubling Hima for some time, leading to speculation that she may not run 400m and may switch to the 200m.

Asked about this, she said, “I am recovering (from the injury). I will do whatever is decided by my coach and the AFI. They will decide it (which one I will run).”

She added: “I am fit to undergo outdoor training and we have been doing that in the last 30 to 40 days.”

She won a silver in the individual 400m race in the 2018 Asian Games and was a part of the gold-winning quartets in the women’s 4x400m relay and mixed 4x400m relay events.

She, however, suffered a back injury during the race in the Asian Games and she pulled out midway the individual 400m race in the Asian Championships in Doha in April last year. She was later dropped from the team for the World Championships.

After treatment on her injured back, Hima won six low-grade races in Poland and Czech Republic in July and August last year. But she ran just one 400m race in 2019 and four out of five other wins came in the 200m event.

Hima said the national campers at the NIS Patiala have started easing into their specialised training after working on their outdoor fitness regime.

“There are no immediate competitions and so we are neither doing low-level training nor intense. We are just doing medium intensity training. Let us see when we picked up our training to a high momentum.

“It is very hot here and so we do only morning training. So in the evening we have spare time and I do cycling (in the velodrome) and even do cricket ball bowling.”

The AFI has tentatively fixed September 12 as the start of domestic season. With the COVID-19 cases in the country increasing by the day, the AFI will have to take a final decision whether to go ahead with the tentative calendar or not.

Asked if the September 12 start of the domestic season is feasible, Hima said, “We are doing training thinking the tentative schedule. But on the other hand, COVID-19 cases are increasing, even in Patiala, and a lot of athletes will have to come (for a national meet).

“Ultimately, the AFI will take a decision on the issue, taking into account all the circumstances.”