Indian sprinter Hima Das scripted history by winning the Gold medal at the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championships in the 400m event with a timing of 51.46 seconds.
The youngster clocked an impressive 52.10 seconds in the semi-finals heat number one and led the overall time charts. Not only that, she also topped the timings in the first round heats at the meet in Finland on Wednesday and following it up with a top podium finish on Thursday in the finals.
“I am very happy to win the gold in the World Junior Championships. I want to thank all the Indians back home and also those, who were here cheering me. It was very encouraging to have this kind of support,” said Hima Das after the race.
This is by far the best achievement for India in recent times in track and field events and the hangover of the feat will be carried forward to the upcoming 2018 Jakarta Asian Games which begins next month. Andrea Milkos finished behind of Romania finished behind her clocking 52.07 seconds while Taylor Mason of USA settled for a Bronze with a timing of 52.28 seconds at the Ratina Stadium in Tampere, Finland.
What strikes out here is the difference in timings between the Gold medal and the Silver medal winners. It is also pertinent to note here that Hima’s final timings yesterday was nowhere close to her personal best that she had achieved at the National Inter State Athletics Championships in Guwahati earlier this month.
51.13 seconds. That’s how low she has taken her timings. The most amazing thing is that she has achieved so much, improved so much, and she has done it all in very little time.
Hailing from Assam’s Dhing village, Hima reached great heights in the past year with an impressive show at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games earlier this year. She finished at the 6th position in Australia which was the best ever finish for an Indian sprinter.
Achieving a personal best 400-metre timing (51.30) at the CWG, she promised much more in the future. In fact, it was a mammoth feat to even feature at the mega event, considering the fact she was unaware of what the Commonwealth Games was a couple of years ago.
“At the CWG, I competed with the best runners in the world for the first time. I observed how they do the little things differently. The next time I get to run with them, I shall surely medal,” said Hima Das to The Bridge after the Commonwealth Games, and she did keep her word.
She has shown a meteoric rise in her performance off late. At the recently concluded National Senior Athletics Championships, she won the Gold in the women’s 200m with a record timing of 23.10 seconds.
This was quicker than the 23.22 she clocked in Poland a few days before during the training cum exposure trip. Not only that, she also lowered the Indian U-20 record in 400m to 51.13 seconds in the National Inter-State Championships in Guwahati a few days ago.
From Assam to the world
The youngest of five children of Jomali Das and Ronjit Das, Hima started playing football in the muddy fields in the locality before she had intentions of running down the track. Her father is a marginal farmer, the family never had enough money to support her sports career. It was only in 2016 that her PE teacher insisted that her to take up an individual sport as a career in football and hence the start of a brand new story.
“At the CWG, I competed with the best runners in the world for the first time. I observed how they do the little things differently. The next time I get to run with them, I shall surely medal,” said Hima after the CWG, and she did keep her word.
After a few months of training, she competed at the State Championships in Guwahati and her career took off with a Bronze medal in the 100m event at the meet. The Junior National Championships in Coimbatore helped him gain recognition in the entire nation. Assam, which was not so known for its athletes, was given a boost by the young girl. “No one really expected her to do much,” says Nabajit Malakar to The Bridge after the Commonwealth Games, who accompanied the Assam team to Coimbatore.
He added, “But she made it to the final of the 100m to Coimbatore. It was remarkable that this girl who had never even trained properly had managed to reach the final and was competing along with girls who had been training seriously.” Sports seldom surprises when you least expect something to happen, that was certainly the case with Hima Das.
Congratulations poured in for Hima Das.
People from all corners of the country congratulated the young sprinter including the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind. Among the others are Honourable Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Rathod, former cricketer Virender Sehwag and the also ex-captain of the Indian hockey team Viren Rasquinha. This was a remarkable event indeed!
SHE DID IT! SHE HAS WRITTEN HISTORY IN 51.46 SECONDS!! #HimaDas of #India wins FIRST EVER TRACK GOLD MEDAL IN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS in WOMEN-400m #iaaftampere2018 in #Finland
Well done champion!! #Assam@narendramodi @sebcoe @sarbanandsonwal @Adille1 @Naveen_Odisha pic.twitter.com/pmcjSNfT6Y
— Athletics Federation of India (@afiindia) July 12, 2018
Congratulations to our sensational sprint star Hima Das for winning the 400m gold in the World Under-20 Championship. This is India’s first ever track gold in a World Championship. A very proud moment for Assam and India, Hima; now the Olympic podium beckons! #PresidentKovind
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) July 12, 2018
Hima Das creates history by winning Gold medal in 400m of World U20 Championships. She is 1st Indian athlete to win Gold in track event of U-20 World Championships. You have made 🇮🇳 proud. #NariShakti
— Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) July 12, 2018
Hima Das!! What a champion!! Congratulations. You make India proud 👏👏👏 U-20 400m World Champion pic.twitter.com/W4wyCHH4UL
— Viren Rasquinha (@virenrasquinha) July 12, 2018
Wow! So proud of you Hima Das. Incredible, historic achievement on becoming the first Indian track athlete to win a medal at any global event winning Gold at women's 400m World U-20 Championships clocking a time of 51.47 seconds. Thank you for the happiness. pic.twitter.com/Cs5wY8sDuM
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) July 12, 2018
This may just be the beginning of a glorious chapter in Indian Athletics, but it would not be advisable to rest on the laurels as a lot is yet to be won. The big feat in Finland will be nothing more than history tomorrow, what lies in the future is the thing to worry about. The 2018 Jakarta Asian Games in the destination with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics still quite some miles away!
Take a bow, Hima Das!