Hima Das, the name is now proudly written in India's books of glory. Coming from the rice fields of Assam, the 18-year-old on Thursday achieved a feat that no other Indian girl had done before her. Hima became the first Indian to win Gold at the 400-metre event at the IAAF World U20 Championship in Finland. "Thank you for your support, India," is what she had to say after the historic win at the Championship. All of India is thanking her for the glory.
Hima Das has won her World Championship Gold in just 18 months after running her first competitive race, which was an inter-district meet in Sivasagar in Assam. The daughter of Somali and Ronjit Das, a rice farmer, Hima Das is the youngest among five siblings in Assam.
She began with playing football in a muddy field at her school with boys. Neither did her village encourage girls into athletics nor did her father have the means to nurture her skill. "I played for local clubs as a striker and I thought maybe one day I would play for India," she said in an interview with ESPN earlier this year.
Video of Hima Das Winning The 400-metre event at the IAAF World U20 Championship
— Nikhil Naz (@NikhilNaz) July 12, 2018
Her PE teacher in 2016 suggested that she takes up athletics, following which she started practising on the muddy field where the boys played football. She then started taking part in state championships and started winning her medals right away.
Hima was soon spotted by Nipon Das, an athletics coach with the Directorate of Sports and Youth Welfare, at an inter-district meet. “She was wearing cheap spikes but she won gold in the 100 and 200. She ran like the wind. I hadn’t seen such a talent in ages,” Nipon said as quoted by The Indian Express.
It was then that Nipon convinced Hima and her parents that she shifts to Guwahati and trains professionally and there has been no looking back. "Her biggest strength is that she simply doesn't worry about what's happening in the other lanes. People ask her, 'Aren't you worried if the person next to you is a national champion?' The fact is she doesn't even know who the national champion or world champion is because she has just been competing at any level for a year," says Nabajit Malakar, another coach who trains Hima.