Hima Das makes history. Hima Das does us proud.
I read about Hima Das in an ESPN article about 5 days ago. It said she is the favorite to win at the 400m U20 World Championships.
“For someone who could create history in a couple of days, Hima Das is quite nonchalant. It’s not every day that an Indian heads to a world athletic event as the one to beat, but that’s the situation the 18-year-old finds herself in. On Tuesday, when Hima lines up for the heats of the 400m at the 2018 World Junior Championships in the Finnish town of Tampere, it will be with the knowledge that she is the fastest in the field.”
I didn’t think much of the article because of my grand faith in our inability as a nation to win anything substantial in athletics at a global stage. Our greatest runners are number 4 in the greatest races in the history of Indian sports. Milkha Singh and PT Usha. So what was so special about Hima Das?
And today morning I read the news that she won the 400m dash, coming from behind, and taking away the gold. I saw the YouTube video just now. Her win was just plain unbelievable.
Come to think of it, Hima was discovered as a potential runner while playing football in a muddy village in Assam. She was 16 then, and by 18 she is a World Champion.
Her coach said, “It’s so hard to believe that she has been running the 400m for less than a year. When she took part in her first 400m race we expected her to run around 54 seconds. But she ran in 51.97s.”
Even her coaches accept that Hima Das is a special talent and her wins are a combination of her self belief and natural physical power – more than training.
“She has never been someone who took a lot of tension in anything. I’ve seen big athletes who are so nervous they have to be called several times before they will go to the track. Hima doesn’t worry at all. It is like she is just doing another practice session.”
At 18, Hima is obviously one of the youngest 400m winner in the world today. In 2020 Olympics, she will just be 20. Which means she has another 2 Olympics to win India their first medal in running. And I believe she can do it. Many like me are waiting for that moment for decades.
As Hima says, “What’s there to be nervous about? I like running. I’ve told myself just one thing: Tum maje se bhago (Go and have fun).”
Tum Maje Se Bhago girl!! More power to you!
(Image courtesy by DNA)
By Mohan Guruswamy