IAAF World U-20 Championships 2018: India's Hima Das wins historic gold medal; watch video
18 months ago she had taken up running. On Thursday, the daughter of a rice farmer from Dhing village in Nagaon district, Hima Das, scripted history by becoming the first ever Indian track athlete to claim a gold medal at a global event when she won the 400 metre final at the World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.
Das finished her race with a timing of 51.46s in the final, a shade below her seasonal and personal best of 51.13 metres. However, it was the way the 18-year-old sprinter ran, starting conservatively and before producing an incredible burst of speed off the final bend to surge ahead of the others, that stood out.
Here’s a video of the incredible race released by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI):
As we can see in the video, Das was trailing for quite some part of the race. Going into the final stretch, though, she started overtaking her competitors one by one. By the time she crossed the finish line, the youngster was well ahead of Andrea Miklos of Romania, who finished second with a time of 52.07 seconds and Taylor Madson of the United States, who came third with a time of 52.28 seconds.
Earlier, Das had clocked an impressive 52.10 seconds in the semi-finals heat number one and led the overall time charts and also, topped the timings in the first round heats on Wednesday.
Das had first shot into the limelight during the Federation Cup in March, where she ran 400m in 51.97 seconds to book a berth for the Commonwealth Games. In Gold Coast, she did well to qualify for the final where she finished fifth with a personal best of 51.32 seconds.
With Thursday's achievement, Das became only the second to win a gold after Neeraj Chopra won the gold medal in Javelin Throw at Bydgoszcz in 2016. She is also only the fourth Indian ever to win a medal at the Under-20 World Championships.
Speaking to IAAF after the win, Das said, “I’m very proud to hold the Indian flag on my shoulders, I’d like to thank India and my team leader and my coach. My biggest strength is the last 100m. Next for me will be the Asian Games but my big dream is to compete in the Olympics one day.”