Capt. Seshadri writes about how Hima Das went from rice bowl to race track glory setting a new world record for India
It has been a long journey, but in a very short time, from the rice fields of Dhing village of Nagaon district in Assam, to Tampere, the city of power, in Finland. Nagaon, dating back to 1833 was once described as a district of three Cs: chicken, children and cases. A hemisphere apart, Tampere, often referred to as the ‘Manchester’ of Finland, is an important industrial city and a major source of electricity for the Finnish industry.
It was in this city that Hima Das, an 18 year old Indian girl, raised among the rice fields, powered her way to India’s first women’s gold at a world event, sprinting to victory in the 400m at the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics. Running a well thought out race in lane number 4, Hima breasted the tape in 51:47, kicking in a burst in the last 80 m and overtaking her main rival Andrea Miklos of Romania. Although a wee bit under her personal best of 51:13 in June 2018 at the National Inter-State Championships at Guwahati, it sufficed to create women’s track history for India.
Born on January 9, 2000, this millennial athlete started her sports career playing football with the boys in the fields of her native village. Nipon Das, a local coach was quick to spot her athletic ability and, despite reluctance and resistance from her family, moved her out to Guwahati. Although there was no separate athletics department, she trained at the State Academy. Starting out as a
200 m sprinter and acquitting herself remarkably well, her coaches spotted in her, a special talent for the quarter mile. Now, barely a year and a half since her first competitive run in an inter-district meet, Hima is reaching the pinnacles of athletics, creating history in the process.
Milkha Singh, the legendary Flying Sikh, has often been quoted as saying that his biggest dream was to witness an Indian win a gold in track and field. His dream has come true. Could it be termed mere coincidence that this achievement falls precisely on the 5th anniversary of the release of the biopic ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’?