Hima Das scripts history; becomes first Indian woman to win gold on track

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Sprinter Hima Das scripted history as she becomes the first Indian woman athlete to win a gold at the world level after clinched the top spot in the women’s 400m final race in the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championships in Finland.

The 18-year-old Das, a pre-tournament favourite, 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 women to have won a gold in a track event at the world level.

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Running in lane number 4, Das was behind Romania’s Andrea Miklos at the final bend but produced a stunning burst during the final stretch to cross the finishing line well ahead of the field. She produced her trademark burst at the final 50m.

Miklos took the silver in 52.07 while Taylor Manson of USA was third in 52.28.

“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,” she said after the race.

Das, from Dhing village in Assam’s Nagaon district, now joins the illustrious company of star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who won a gold in Poland in the last edition in 2016 in a world record effort.

In fact, Das is the first Indian track athlete to have won a medal in the history of this competition. The other medal winners are — Seema Punia (bronze in the discus in 2002) and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (bronze in the discus in 2014).

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HIMA DAS

  • 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 coach Nipon Das, 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, Ranjit Das and Jomali, were initially reluctant to let the youngest of six children leave.
  • Nipon arranged for Hima to stay in a rented accommodation near the Sarusajai Sports Complex.

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