On the 2nd of July, sporting fanatics in India went berserk as India defeated Bangladesh to etch a spot in the World Cup semi-finals for the third consecutive time. Around 1000 miles eastward, a modest, unassuming athlete geared up to make a mark at the Poznan Athletics Grand Prix in Poland. She emerged victorious, clocking 23.65 seconds in the 200m race, to conclude a glorious day for Indian sports. While the World Cup squad was close to the business end, the valiant runner had just started to ply her trade. That runner was nation's latest sporting heartthrob, the Dhing Express Hima Das.
It is tough to perform when you have the weight of legacy on your shoulders. It is even tougher when you set out to create your own. Hima chose the second track, commencing the journey of becoming second to none. She exhibited her big game temperament in the Women's 400m in the IAAF U20 World Championships in Finland in 2018, as she became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in a Track and Field World Championships. She also had a glittering Asian Games, winning a gold and two silvers. The rest, as they say, is history.
5 days after her Poznan fireworks, the 19-year-old once again took the field in Poland, at the Kutno Athletics Meet, and emulated her feat in the 200m event. After a few days, 125 crore people were devastated with the agonizingly close ouster of India in the World Cup. It was painstaking to bear another instance of so close, yet so far for the fans.
It was then that the Golden Girl brought respite, sprinting to a hat-trick of golds and ensuring that the Indian flag flies high in the field of sports. It was Czech Republic that witnessed the stoicism of Hima this time, as she bettered her timing, taking only 23.43 seconds to be crowned the champion.
The Dhing Express was on a roll, and there was nothing that could stop her. The complacence was brushed aside, the law of averages seemed to have found an exception. Not even the ailing of her hometown with floods could dent her spirit.
Hima raced to a hair-raising fourth gold medal in a single season, as she took the top spot at the Tabor Athletics Meet. However, her hunger for glory was not satiated. The Nove Mesto nad Metuji Grand Prix saw her switch back to the event that had shot her to glory -- the 400m race. The change in format saw no change in the outcome, as the 19-year-old sprinter completed a hat-trick of gold at the Czech Republic as well, with this medal being her fifth of the season.
The events which Hima won are not classified amongst the elite by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), but, it does not, in any way, demean her achievements. While a lot is left to be done to topple the top runners, the Dhing Express has certainly become a force to reckon with, thanks to her accolades.
The golden dash of Hima, which spanned over nineteen days, got the entire nation talking nineteen to the dozen. A young girl, who used to fly planes with the aim of visiting fanciful foreign lands, is today flying high on spirits. Not only is she visiting alien turfs, but is conquering them with her rigorous exploits as well. To top it all, she exhibited that her heart is also made up of pure 24-carat gold, as she donated half of her salary to the flood relief fund of her ailing hometown Assam.
Hima's achievements have not been possible only due to 3 weeks of rigorous running, but due to 3 years of meticulous planning and diligent training. With the Arjuna Awardee immediately shifting her focus to the World Championships at Doha this year by dubbing these wins as a warm-up for the marquee event, she holds a substantial prospect of shining brightly in the Land of the Rising Sun in the 2020 Olympics.Published 25 Jul 2019, 23:08 IST