I worry for Hima Das.
The story of the 19-year-old athlete from Assam, the child of farmers, is so compelling that it has overwhelmed a nation. The prime minister to cricketers to film stars are racing to congratulate the runner who has won five gold medals in East Europe in recent weeks.
Will we remember Hima two years from now? We do tend to forget most sports stars other than cricketers rather quickly.
According to an Indian Express report Hima’s best timing of 23.25 seconds in the 200 m recently was only the 128th best in the world this year. She won because the competition was poor.
She is stronger in 400 m and may beat the qualifying mark of 51.80 seconds to run in the World Championships in Athletics later in 2019. India has traditionally been a poor performer in athletics and so we want to believe Hima will do well.
But she is only 19; she needs our support when she fails – even more so than when she wins. So what we can do? Athletes are told to ‘pace themselves’ – which is, to run in a controlled way so that they don’t exhaust themselves later in the race.
As followers and as media we need to pace ourselves emotionally too. We should be controlled in our adulation so that when our stars go through a bad phase we still have the enthusiasm to cheer them on. hashtag#HimaDas