"While you all were sleeping, I rocked the world," said sensational 18-year-old athlete Hima Das.
- Golden girl Hima Das breaks records — and liquor vends.
- Hima Das: From Assam’s rice fields to becoming India’s first world gold medallist on the track.
JUST 18 months after running her first competitive race — an inter-district meet in Sivasagar, Assam — 18-year-old Hima Das has created athletics history. The daughter of a rice farmer from Dhing village in Nagaon district, she got India its first ever track gold at a global event by winning the 400-meter final at the World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.
Sprinter Hima Das has scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman athlete to win a gold at the world level as she clinched the top spot in the women's 400m final race in the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championships here.
The 18-year-old Das, a pre-tournament favorite, clocked 51.46s to win the gold, which triggered a wild celebration at the Indian camp. This was though not her personal best as she had clocked 51.13 last month in Guwahati at the National Inter-State Championships.
No woman before Das has won a gold medal in a World Championship at any level, be it youth, junior or senior. She is also the first Indian -- men or women -- to have won a gold in a track event at the world level.
Watch: Hima Das creates history for Indian athletics
Unforgettable moments from @HimaDas8’s victory.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 14, 2018
Seeing her passionately search for the Tricolour immediately after winning and getting emotional while singing the National Anthem touched me deeply. I was extremely moved.
Which Indian won’t have tears of joy seeing this! pic.twitter.com/8mG9xmEuuM
The 18-year-old from a village in Nagaon district of Assam, a pre-tournament favourite, clocked 51.46s to win the gold.
With this win, Hima joined an elite club of Indian athletes who have won medals at the World U20 Championships.
But she is the only runner in a hall of fame that has throwers like Seema Punia (bronze, discus), Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (bronze, discus) and Neeraj Chopra (gold, javelin).
Hima started off with football, kicking the ball with boys in the mud pits next to the rice fields. She was then advised by a local coach to take up athletics.
Soon, the teenager was spotted by Nipon, an athletics coach with the Directorate of Sports and Youth Welfare, during 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 says.
The coach asked Hima to shift to Guwahati, 140 km from her village and convinced the youngster that she had a future in athletics. Her parents, Ronjit Das and Jomali, were initially reluctant to let the youngest of six children leave. But with Nipon not ready to hear a no, they relented.
Nipon arranged for Hima to stay in a rented accommodation near the Sarusajai Sports Complex. He eventually convinced officials to induct her into the state academy, which specialized in boxing and football. “There was no separate wing for athletics but the officials were open to Hima being part of the academy after seeing her performances. Assam is not known to produce runners,” he says.
Nipon has been a constant guiding force. “I keep telling Hima only one thing: Dream big. Because only a few are blessed with God-given talent. My aim was to try and make sure she is part of the relay team for the Asian Games. But she has surpassed all expectations by winning a world championship gold in the individual event.”
Take a bow Hima Das!! You’ve made us proud!! the first Indian to win the gold in track and field events at the world junior championships...The Nation salutes you!!Posted by Ram Charan on Friday, July 13, 2018
Gautam Gambhir about Hima Das Winning GOLD:
Normally it’s the citizens who are proud of their national anthem. In this instance I think national anthem must have felt proud to be part of #HimaDas moment!!! And all this while some are still debating whether to stand for it or not. pic.twitter.com/S6UcZ4KBkZ— Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) July 14, 2018
Sachin Tendulkar About Hima das:
Your 51.46 sec dash and years of hard work has paid off, #HimaDas. Many congratulations on winning Gold at the World U20 athletics championship. This is just the beginning of a new era. Many more to come. Keep up the hard work! #GoldenGirl #DreamsComeTrue pic.twitter.com/tL6tqq2hKI— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) July 13, 2018