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Athletics Federation of India's president slams media for Hima Das controversy

Rituraj Borkakoty/Dubai
Filed on October 15, 2018
Athletics Federation of Indias president slams media for Hima Das controversy
Hima Das (right) with cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar. (Photo courtesy Hima Das official Facebook page)

There is absolutely no issue at all, Sumariwalla said

Adille Sumariwalla, president of the Athletics Federation of India, slammed media houses for creating a big controversy on India's sprint queen Hima Das.

A gold medal-winning effort at the World Junior Athletics Championships and three more medals, including a gold at the Asian Games, catapulted Hima into stardom.

Her celebrity status got even bigger once she arrived in Assam where the state government felicitated her with a cheque of INR 16 million (Dh 7,96,835)

The 18-year-old Hima, the first Indian runner to win a world junior gold, then saw her popularity reach even greater heights when she signed an endorsement deal with Adidas. The German giants even came up with custom-made shoes bearing her name.

From joining the likes of Sourav Ganguly, Abhishek Bachchan and Nita Ambani in Indian Super League's opening ceremony to her face appearing on the cover of GQ magazine, Hima's rise has been meteoric.

No other Indian runner has ever been placed on such pedestals.

But the local media in Assam, who cover her every move, stoked up a fire with constant updates on how the Athletics Federation of India was "unhappy" with the runner for not joining the national camp on October 10.

The media reports sparked public outrage in Assam, with people slamming Hima on social media for "losing focus and getting carried away by success".

Media reports even claimed that the athletics federation has raised their concerns about the issue with the Assam state government.

However, Sumariwalla, the president of the Athletics Federation of India, cleared the air when Khaleej Times spoke to him over phone.

"We have got no problem with Hima. Yes, she will be joining the camp a little late. We have spoken about it. In fact, I have been talking to Hima almost everyday. There is absolutely no issue at all," Sumariwalla told Khaleej Times.

"When she comes back from Assam, she will start her regular training. And we have full confidence in her that she will continue to perform at a high level for India in future international events."

Sumariwalla also asked the media to act more responsibly.

"It's rubbish. It seems the media has got no other work. They want controversy. It's a really sad state of affairs. There is no truth in any report that we are unhappy with Hima," Sumariwalla said.

"I ask media to refrain from making unnecessary controversies which can only put pressure on a young athlete like Hima," he added.

Sumariwalla is happy that now global giants like Adidas have started backing track and field stars in a cricket-obsessed country.

"Yes it's great to see the hard work and results of our athletes have been acknowledged. And that they have been supported by these global giants," Sumariwalla said.

"I am very happy for Hima. She is a national icon now. She is one of the few Indian track and field athletes that have got endorsement deals with global giants. This will inspire more youngsters in India now to take up athletics."


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