Hailing from Assam but sparkling world-wide, Hima Das won the nation over by clenching a gold in a 400m sprint at the World Under 20 Athletics Championship. The audacious 17-year-old bolted in the last moments of the race and finished first. Clocking at 51.46, she dashed past Romania’s Andrea Miklós (52.07s) and US’s Taylor Manson (52.28s).
From the president to superstars, everyone lauded Das for becoming the first Indian to grab a track gold in a World Championship. With just 15 months of formal training, she miraculously became a world champion.
To know more about this wonderful sportswoman, read on!
1. Before running, she goaled!
Born into a family of rice farmers in Kandhulimari village of Assam, Das is the eldest of four children. She attended Dhing Public School and played football as a child. Due to her tomboyish charm, she played soccer with boys and wanted to pursue a career in it. After a suggestion from a physical education instructor, Shyamasul Haque, Das switched to sprinting.
2. From district tournament to sports academy!
Haque brought Hima to Gowri Roy at the Nagaon Sports Association. There she qualified for an inter-district competition and won two gold medals at the sports meet. An athletic coach, Nipon Das, from Youth Welfare spotted her fierce talent (fuelled by a competitive spirit) and asked her to shift to Guwahati for training. She joined Sarusajai Sports Complex and trained there.
3. Worked hard and rose above all!
At the academy, another coach—Nabajit Malakar—observed Das’s discipline and spirit. He, along with Nipon, decided to invest in Hima. As she came from a family of limited means, both the coaches personally paid for her diet and other necessities.
Hima acknowledged their support by giving her best in Asian Youth Championship in Bangkok, the World Youth Championship in Nairobi, and eventually in the World Under 20 Athletics Championship. Hima started with 200m but later switched to 400m upon her coaches’ suggestion. They were aware of her robust stamina and celerity, and realised that she would excel even more in a longer format. Her trainers knew her in and out, Nipon even quoted:
“Hima’s dedication and hard work set her apart. Hima is a very rare talent I have come across in my career. A lot of athletes come to the track not to build a career but to secure a government job”
Hima’s victory speaks volumes about her. It’s not a walk-in-the-park to triumph a World Championship, with just a little formal training. It’s apparent that she is perseverant and courageous, and will shine even brighter in future!
Here’s to “The Incredible Sprinter, Hima Das”