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– Radhika Maheshwari

Ever known a person, hitherto shrouded in oblivion and then rising like a meteor after a race of less than a minute?   Meet Hima Das, the latest and one of the greatest national prides, India is presently exalting.

Just after 18 months of running her first competitive race, an inter-district meet in Sivasagar, Assam — 18-year-old Hima Das has created history in Athletics. from coming from Dhing village in Nagaon district, the daughter of a rice farmer got India its first ever track gold at a global event by winning the 400 metre final at the World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland on 12 July’2018.

The Indian Sprinter clocked 51.46 seconds to claim the top position.  Andrea Miklos of Romania came second with a timing of 52.07 seconds to claim silver while USA’s Taylor Manson took home bronze after clocking 52.28 seconds.

As being an historical night for Indian sports, congratulatory messages poured in from all corners for the young athlete. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to Twitter to congratulate Hima, after she clinched the top spot in the women’s 400m final race in the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championships.

Narendra Modi on twitter wrote, “India is delighted and proud of athlete Hima Das, who won a historic Gold in the 400m of World U20 Championships. Congratulations to her! This accomplishment will certainly inspire young athletes in the coming years.”

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. With this win, Hima joined an elite club of Indian athletes who have won medals at the World U20 Championships.

After taking up athletics, the teenager was soon 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. “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,” Nipon added.

Nipon has always been a constant guiding force for Hima.  “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,” he quoted.

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