Hima Das, from tomboy playing ball in mud pits to scripting sporting history

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Assamese sprinter Hima Das who scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to win gold in the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World U-20 Athletic Championships is an inspiration to millions of teenagers.

A tomboyish Hima started off with football. She used to kick the ball with boys in the mud pits next to the rice fields in her village. She was 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.

Since then till today, Das has worked hard to improve her athletic skills. Moreover, Hima started her career as an athlete running in the renowned Nurul Amin Stadium in Nagaon district of Assam.

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Is English more important than a landmark gold at a world championship?

Creating a landmark, the daughter of a rice farmer from Nagaon’s Dhing district has made everyone proud as she became the first woman from India to clinch gold at the IAAF in women’s 400 m final race in Finland.

The 18-year-old sprinter, Das, has clocked 51.46 to win the gold, taking the track by storm through her smashing run overtaking three strong rivals from countries including US and Jamaica.

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On her victory, Hima said, “I am very happy as I am the first girl in India to clinch gold in an athletic championship. Special thanks to my Indians and thanks to my coaches. Big thanks to the Athletic Federation of India for their support. I am a proud Indian and I love my flag. I am very happy. This is the traditional ‘gamosa’ of our state.”

Born and bought up in a poor family, Das, right from her childhood, was a brave-hearted girl donning different hats.

Reflecting on her success, Das’ coach Nipon, narrated her journey. “Earlier she used to play football but later whenever she used to get the time she used to play athletics in inter-district level. In 2016, she participated in inter-district championship held in Sivasagar.

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Again in 2017 January, she played in a front-ranking athletic camp organized by the Assam Sports Department in Guwahati where she performed really well. There I decided to get her to Guwahati and trained her,” said Nipon.

Das’ incredible journey which has inspired millions especially youths of the country, couldn’t have been possible without the guiding force of her parents.

“I am feeling really proud after getting the news. Since childhood, she has been a brave girl and dedicated to her work. It is the outcome of her hard work and dedication. We wish a bright future ahead and hope she keeps delivering great performances in the championships,” said Das’ mother Junali Das.

However, it is worth noting that with this win, Hima joins the elite team of athletes who have won medals in U20 world 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).

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The previous medal winners at the World Junior Championships were Seema Punia (bronze in discus in 2002) and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (bronze in discus in 2014).

Das clocked an Indian U-20 record of 51.32 seconds to finish sixth in the Commonwealth Games 400m final in Gold Coast in April.

Since then, she has gone onto improving her timings. She lowered the Indian U-20 record in 400m to 51.13 seconds while winning gold in the recent National Inter-State Championships in Guwahati.

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