Hima Das is the ultimate news for Indian sports fraternity. Much bigger than the crushing 8-wicket win over England.
The 18-year-old Hima has created history at Tampere, Finland, by becoming the first Indian track athlete to win a gold medal at an international event as she won the 400m final at IAAF World U20 Championships.
Hima’s phenomenal final 80-meter dash where she was overtaking her rivals saw the spectators and commentators shouting their larynx out. She clocked 51.46 seconds and became the first Indian athlete to win a gold in a track World Championships across all the age groups.
There are many hard to believe facts in Hima’s meteoric rise.
Barely 18 months ago, this 18-year-old prodigy ran her first competitive race – an inter-district meet in Sivasagar, Assam. Just two years after she wore spikes for the first time, the story for this Nagaon, Assam born girl looks nothing less than a fairy tale.
The elements of her humbling beginnings and arduous journey falls nothing short for a bewildering and inspirational documentary.
Daughter of a rice farmer from Dhing village in Nagaon district, Hima started off with football, kicking the ball with boys in the mud pits next to the rice fields. She was then advised by a local coach to take up athletics.
Soon, the teenager was spotted by Nipon Das, an athletics coach with the Directorate of Sports and Youth Welfare, during an inter-district meet. He was surprised to see the girl winning gold in 100 and 200 metres wearing cheap spikes.
Nipon urged Hima to shift to Guwahati, 140 km from her village and convinced the youngster that an illustrious future awaits her in athletics. The coach then made laborious efforts to convince her parents, Ronjit Das and Jomali, who were initially reluctant to let the youngest of six children leave.
Destiny started shaping for the good later as Hima shifted to a rented accommodation arranged by Nipon near the Sarusajai Sports Complex. He eventually convinced officials to induct her into the state academy, which specialised in boxing and football. A separate wing was started later for athletics considering her remarkable performances that the fact that the state has not produced any elite runners.
Nipon as a coach has played an impeccable role in shaping the history of Indian athletics and bringing out the best in the form of India’s next PT Usha.
With this remarkable streak, Hima joined an elite club of Indian athletes who have won medals at the World U20 Championships. She is, however, the only runner in the hall of fame that has Disc throwers like Seema Punia and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon as well as the javelin star Neeraj Chopra.
Hima followed the footsteps of the Delhi youngster Neeraj who became the first Indian to win a gold at U20 world championships in the men’s javelin event in 2016. Hima has now etched her name in the history of Indian athletics for being the first to open an account among more to come sprint medallists.
Hima’s heroics came to be reckoned after her performance at the recently held Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, where she finished sixth in women’s 400m at 51.32 seconds, 1.17 behind the Gold medallist Amantle Montsho from Botswana.
She was also a part of women’s 400X4m relay team which finished seventh with the total time of 3 minutes and 33.61 seconds.