She nailed a good form.
She counted her steps.
She started running… Tracing Star Sprint Queen Journey – Hima Das.
Alas! Power went cut, and her dear “Mon Jai” gang couldn’t see her wearing a 400m gold medal, but they saw the entire match. “I hadn’t eaten anything but after she won, I did,” her 52-year-old father Ranjit Das said. “Later, she called us at 1 in the night, and said, ‘Deutaa (father) did you watch my match? I made the world shiver while you were asleep.’”
Hima Das’ historic win at the World U20 Championships made India and in particular, Assam very proud. The Assamese celebrated her win the big way when she became the first Indian to win a track event at an elite world competition.
The next morning, she was sobbing continuously talking with her coach, Nippon Das. Crying and getting emotional is not her regular thing, but running hard, running with joy, rage is.
“We are always proud of her. She is very brave and not afraid of anything”, her mother Jonali Das said calmly when her daughter created a history a few days ago at Tampere, Finland.
Her proud moment, shrugging “is a god’s gift”, said the global athlete— not even two years since she started professional training.
She can hardly sit 15 minutes to read, she doesn’t like doing chores. “She enjoyed helping her father and shared his share of work, not so much the kitchen work,” her mother added. “She loved the work that usually the men of the family would take up. She couldn’t sit still for more than 15 minutes at her desk while studying. She just wanted to be out in the fields, playing.”
Coaches say the 18-year-old quarter-miler has the potential to be a breakout star, but she will need support and careful handling…
Hima began her training at the Nagaon Sports Association from 2014 to 2016. Hima’s family couldn’t always afford to pay for her travel – from her village to Nagaon – and Roy would step in to help.
“We had first sent her to Visakhapatnam to play at the National Inter-district Athletics Championship, where she didn’t win any medals,” Roy said. “She was then selected for the Inter-district U16 Athletics Meet in Goalpara, Assam, for 100 and 200 m, where again she was unable to win any medals. But in 2015, we sent her for the same event at Dhekiajuli, where she placed third in both the 100m and 200m” runs.
“Then in 2016, we sent her to Sivasagar, where she won gold at both the 100 m and 200 m at the Inter-district Sports Meet, coached under Sailen Bhuyan.”
The same year, Hima qualified from Nagaon district for the Khelo India State Meet in Guwahati, where she again placed first in the 100m and 200m runs. Following that, she qualified for the Khelo India National Meet in Hyderabad. “That was when she came under Nipon Das and Nobojit Malakar, her coaches in Guwahati,” according to Roy.
“At the last curve, when she was behind, my heart sank but I had a feeling she would pull ahead, and she did. That girl has an immense mental strength and she does what she says.”, her coach said proudly about Hima Das
Hima grew up in a joint family of 17. Among her siblings and cousins, she was the one who stood out, the one who did things differently. When she was 15, she gathered the local village women and disrupted an illicit bootlegging business by one of her neighbours. The next day, the young man involved stood in front of Hima’s house and started shouting, “No one can stop me from selling alcohol”. Hima promptly went, picked him up and gave him a few solid swipes. The boy’s family lodged an FIR against Hima’s father, who, till very recently, would appear in court for this case.
Time and again, Hima has insisted that what she cares about is timing, not medals, not laurels, not world rankings. “The only thing I fear is time. I am not running after gold medals, I am running after time. And once I get that, gold medals will run after me,” she says. Currently, Hima’s personal best on a domestic track for 400m is 51.13 seconds, which she clocked in Guwahati’s Sarusajai Stadium in June. A few days later when we meet in the same stadium, she admits “When I am on track, I am a different person.” Between the squatting on the starting block and the shot of the starting pistol, Hima hears nothing, sees nothing. “All I know is that I need to run,” she says. “The people around me could be Olympian gold medalists. But I don’t take tension. If I do, how will I run my race?”
Neither is she distracted by the 9,000 posters of her that dotted Guwahati on that visit. “My father once told me: ‘Don’t let fame get to your head. The day you do, it will be the end’,” she says, adding that the posters, instead of making her feel grand and self-important, makes her feel “nervous but motivated.”
At her aggressive best, and only to her closest friends, Hima is known to use an Assamese colloquialism “Phali dim” which loosely translates to “I will own it/I will conquer it”. She types it out on the Mon Jai Whatsapp group before she heads into a race, she whispers it into Malakar’s ear before she speaks at a public function, she says it to herself in her head before any reporter asks her for a byte in English. The magical bit about Hima Das is that right after she says it, she actually does it.
Right now, it is said that she needs rest after the continuous demanding work. She will be a top-level competitor, not now but soon…
All the best, Hima !!!