On Thursday, Indian athlete Hima Das gave the country a big reason to celebrate. She created history by conquering the title of becoming the first Indian track athlete, as well as the first Indian woman, to win a gold medal in all age groups. The win in the women’s 400-meter event at IAAF World U20 Championships in Finland, left the whole country in awe and proud when the congratulations and good wishes came pouring in from around the world.
The 18-year old teen sprinter now holds the honour of breaking the dry spell. No Indian athlete won a gold at a global track event before her. Holding a medal and carrying the national flag on the shoulder with the head held high is indeed the best feeling in the whole world for the life of an athlete. Her eyes, along with many, were brimming with tears whilst chanting the national anthem standing at the top spot after the win. A real goosebumps moment.
And she did it in style. In Tampere, Finland, she didn’t have a great start, her competitors Ellen Connolly and American Taylor Mayson had better starts and it was evident that the gold will go to America. But in the last quarter, tables turned and Das sped ahead in lane 4 and won the race with an unbelievably easy margin. She completed the race in 51.46 seconds.
Mayson finished third and Romania’s Andra Miklos came second with Connolly taking the fourth spot.
“The last 100m has always been my strength,” Das said on Friday. “The conditions were good at the stadium and the support from the crowd very encouraging.”
Das was born in Assam and invoke interest in sports while playing football with boys in her school days. She aspired to become a football player and play for India. But her coach Nipon das and advisors got her interested in athletics. Only 3 months ago, she ran in Commonwealth Games and it has only been 18 months since she ran her first competitive race.
It is one of the purest and proudest moment and the whole country acknowledged it. “Very proud of Hima for creating history. It is one of the proudest moments of my life and for Indian athletics,” said Athletics Federation of India president and former Olympian Adille Sumariwalla.
Prime Minister along with many big shots took on Twitter congratulating and pouring heartfelt wishes for the young star.
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.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 13, 2018
विश्व अंडर-20 चैंपियनशिप में 400 मीटर स्वर्ण जीतने के लिए हमारी शानदार स्प्रिंट स्टार हिमा दास को बधाई। विश्व चैंपियनशिप में यह भारत का पहला ट्रैक गोल्ड है। यह असम और भारत के लिए बहुत गर्व का विषय है; हिमा से अब ओलंपिक में पदक का इंतज़ार ! — राष्ट्रपति कोविन्द
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) July 12, 2018
T 2865 – CONGRATULATIONS .. #HimaDas , the first Indian Women to win a GOLD in World Athletic track event EVER ! INDIA is proud of you .. you have given us reason to hold up our heads HIGH ! JAI HIND !! ???? pic.twitter.com/Q0YVCx6FSf
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) July 12, 2018
What an incredible achievement for #HimaDas, the first Indian to win a Gold Medal in 400m Sprint at the World Under-20 Championship. The country is so proud of you! ??????
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) July 13, 2018
We Could be Heroes
Hima Das’s accomplishment is more than just a feather in the cap. She directed the whole nation on a new path. She is only the first one with many more to come in the near future. An inspiration to all, especially girls, she showed everyone that a girl can have the whole world if she puts her heart to it.
The country where celebrating the birth of a girl child is uncommon and investing in girls’ education isn’t much of a priority, a wind of change is sweeping through and stories like that of Das’s are making it happen.
While the race was on, Das said there was nothing in her mind but the finish line. She had one focus, one dream, one goal in her mind: to win. A true hero and inspiration to all and the key is to never look back and no matter what life throws at you, you have to keep moving forward.
She’s not much keen on basking in the glory for long. “I want to focus on the future. Tomorrow, we have the 4x400m race. I am hopeful we can win a medal,” she said.