New Delhi: In a historical landmark for Indian track events, 18-year-old Hima Das on Thursday became the first Indian woman athlete to win a gold medal 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 on Friday.
Born in a poor family in the Nagaon district of Assam, sprinter Hima Das has enjoyed a meteoric rise. She had a slow start and was trailing at least three other runners going into the final stretch. But the teenager produced a powerful sprint in the last 100 metres to win by a comfortable margin.
From Assam’s rice fields to becoming India’s first world gold medallist on track. Here are 7 facts you need to know about the Indian athlete who created history:
- Hima Das is the daughter of a farmer and has grown up on the rice fields of Assam
- The 18-year-old started participating in the competitive race only 18-months back.
- She was interested in sports since childhood as she regularly played football with local boys in the mud pits next to the rice fields but then took up running after a local coach advised her to do so.
- Hima Das’s coach Nipon Das spotted her during an inter-district meet. “She was wearing cheap spikes, but she won gold in the 100 metre and 200 meters. She ran like the wind. I hadn’t seen such a talent in ages,” Nipon said. He shifted her 140kms away from her village to Guwahati, in order to train at the Sarusajai Sports Complex.
- Her parents were initially reluctant to let her go but later they agreed.
- In the Commonwealth Games held in April, Das clocked an Indian U-20 record of 51.32 seconds to finish sixth.
- Das also competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in both the 400 metres and the 4×400 metres relay. In the 400m race, Das qualified for the final where she finished sixth with a time of 51.32 seconds, 1.17 seconds behind gold medalist Amantle Montsho from Botswana. In the 4×400 metres relay, she was part of the Indian team that competed in the final where they finished seventh clocking a time of three minutes and 33 seconds.