Hima Das: Journey to a World Championship gold medal
This is as much a story about a teacher as it is about a student. Just two years before she made history and the entire nation proud, Hima Das had worn a proper spike for the first time.
It did not take more than 18 months for Hima to produce a performance that has etched her name in the history books forever and one that will have an entire chapter to itself in Indian sporting circles.
After running her first competitive race in an Inter-District meet in Sivasagar, Assam, she gave India its first ever track gold in a global event after winning 400-meter final at the at the World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.
The daughter of a farmer from Dhing village, Hima joined an elite club of sports professionals who have won medals at the World U20 Championship. Although Hima had a nervous start in the race and trailed behind in the home stretch of the run, her outstanding run in the final 80 meters, during which she overtook three rivals, helped her clock her record time of 51.46 seconds.
Though the spectators did not expect such a turnaround in the final curve, her coach, Nipon Das wasn’t worried about Hima trailing behind in the race. He was well aware that the 18-year old’s race begins in the final 80 meters.
The fact that she backs her ability to cover up in the final curve speaks a lot of her potential and determination. Nipon’s student recorded her personal best timing at 51.13 seconds.
Not many know that Hima started off with football, playing with the boys in her locality. She was advised by Shamsul Haque, a Physical Education Trainer in Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, to take up athletics.
It was only then that Das switched over to athletics and began participating in races. She was spotted by her present coach Nipon who was impressed by her raw talent. The one thing he noted about Hima was that despite wearing cheap quality running shoes, she managed to win the 100- and 200-meter competitions.
Das was sure that he hadn’t seen such a talent in quite some time. Immediately after, Das asked Hima to shift to Guwahati for proper training and convinced her that she could make a career in athletics.
Initially, Hima’s parents were hesitant to let their youngest child go to a different town for sports training but because of Nipon’s belief in their daughter’s ability, they agreed. It is fair to say that a big part of who Hima is today is because of her coach’s belief in her.
Not only did he convince to take up proper training, he arranged her a rented place near the Sports Complex and an entry into the Academy. Without Nipon’s constant encouragement, Hima Das wouldn’t be a familiar name all over the country.
Nipon wanted Hima to be a part of the Asian Games relay team. However, she has surpassed all his expectations by winning a Gold at a World Championship. With age on her side, India can expect an illustrious career ahead from her in a sport which isn’t much talked about in India.