18-year-old Hima Das, daughter of rice farmer at Kandhulimari village, Nagaon district, Assam has made her state and the country proud after she won a gold medal at the IAAF World U-20 Athletics Championships in Finland.
No women had ever won a gold medal in the world championship, not even at any level for India. India’s Golden Girl Hima Das has finished the race in 51.46 seconds leaving behind Romania’s Andrea Miklos who clocked the race in 52.07 seconds to claim silver and Taylor Manson of the United States who took home bronze after finishing the race in 52.28 seconds.
Hima told PTI from Tampere in Finland that, “I know my family’s condition and how we struggled. But the Almighty has something for everybody. I am a positive person and I want to look ahead in life and do something for my parents and for the country”.
The youngest of five siblings, for Hima, athletics was never a serious option. Her younger sister is in 10 std. and the other twins, a boy, and a girl are in class III. She herself is in class XII, which is just one and a half kilometers from her village.
Ronjit Das, her father has 2 bigha of land (the only source to feed their family) and her mother is a housewife. “She is very stubborn if she wants to do something she will not listen to anybody but she will do it with aplomb. She is a strong girl and that is why she is coming up to achieve something. I hope she will do something for the country,” her father Ronjit said from his village in Assam.
On her victory, she said, “I don’t go out on the track thinking that I will win a medal. What I think is about running faster and faster and I believe that will translate into medals. And I don’t have any target as of now like I will win a medal in Asian Games or Olympics. I am just happy that I am doing something, bringing laurels to the country.”
From a young age, Hima took a keen interest in football and played with the boys in her village. Her talent was then spotted by a local coach who told her to train in athletics.
Nipon asked her to shift to Guwahati, 150 km from her village and convinced the youngster that she had a future in athletics. Her parents were initially reluctant but later relented.
“I don’t go out on the track thinking that I will win a medal. What I think is about running faster and faster and I believe that will translate into medals,” she said.
Das trained at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium at the Sarusajai Sports Complex, Guwahati. Then, she won gold in the 400m race of the Federation Cup in Patiala in March to qualify for the Commonwealth Games.
According to a report in the Indian Express, Hima started slow and trailed on the home stretch, but her blazing run in the final 80 m, where she overtook three rivals saw her clocking 51.46 seconds. Speaking to The Hindu, Hima’s coach, Nipon Das, said, “She does not get overawed by anybody and does not care about her opponents. In every race, her goal is to beat the best with better timing”.
Congratulatory messages have been pouring from all quarters for this young athlete. The President of India, Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore, and Hon’ble Prime Ministers were amongst those who tweeted about her victory.
Hima’s mother and father expressed their delight over her triumph and quoted, “We hope she will continue winning gold in upcoming tournaments bringing pride and glory to the state and country.”