By Aashika Ravi
So friends, yesterday, in Ratina Stadium in Tampere, Finland, an 18-year-old Assamese athlete, Hima Das, made history in the IAAF World U-20 Championships. She is now the first Indian athlete to win a track gold at a global event, across all age groups and genders!
Now we are going to javelin some numbers at you, saavdhaan.
Just 18 months after running her first competitive race, Das clocked 51.46 seconds in the 400 metre women’s event at the World U-20 Championship to win the gold.
In a nail-biting race, Das started slow like Coyote from Looney Tunes, biding her time for the first few hundred metres but transformed into Roadrunner in the last 80 metres of the race to clinch India’s first ever gold medal in a track event.
When that commentator passionately bellowed, “Here comes Heeeema Daaass!” we really had goosebumps.
Hima’s story is as inspirational as they get. She was born to rice farmers in Dhing village in Nagaon district of Assam, where she played football with the boys in her area as a child. Soon, she was advised by a local coach to focus on track, because she showed great potential as a runner.
Nipon Das, an athletics coach with the Directorate of Sports and Youth Welfare, took her under his wing. Since then, she’s achieved an array of accomplishments, including finishing a first ahead of rivals GK Vijayakumari and double Asian Games medallist MR Poovamma, in her first-ever 400m race at the Federation Cup in Patiala, held in March this year.
When reading about this brilliant woman so we can truly fangirl, we found some truly wonderful anecdotes.
According to an ESPN report, when Hima qualified for the Commonwealth Games in March, she called up her mother, Jonali Das, to give her the good news. In typical Indian parent fashion, her mother responded with “Commonwealth Games? What’s that? Will you be on TV? Then it’s probably a good thing.” What bets that she also asked her to either bring tamaatar on the way home, or to be back before 8:30pm, or both?
Hima’s next big challenge is at the Asian Games in Jakarta, which begins on 18th August this year. She has been training very hard for it, and hopes to perform well. But her focus is not on medals, she says. In an interview with NDTV, she dropped this line straight out of Don. “I don’t run after medals, I run after time.”