Doughty sprinter Hima Das always preferred to practice with boys to “better” her performance. This ‘wonder girl’ of the track who comes from a sleepy village in Nagaon district of Assam is the talk of the nation today. Indian athletics latest sensation created history by winning the gold medal in the women’s 400 metre event at the IAAF World U-20 championships held at Tampere in Finland recently.
The ‘Goddess of Speed’ undoubtedly deserves the entire place under the sun. But, equal credit goes to her coach
Nipon Das who has by the sweat of his brow trained Hima. In fact, it was Nipon who had got her to Guwahati in January 2017 so that she could train at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium.
A Times of India report quoted Nipon as saying, “She has been different than others ever since I first spotted her – very disciplined and determined. Normally when a girl starts to train with the boys, they tend to improve their performance level. And Hima was so desperate to improve that she always wanted to run with the boys. She would do anything to better her timing.”
Before hitting the tracks seriously, Hima used to play football in Dhing, a small place in Assam’s Nagaon district. Even senior boys could not “match up to her” when it came to scoring goals.
The report further quoted Nipon as saying, “No doubt, she is gifted. But, at the same time, she works so hard which makes her different from others. In her very first attempt at running 400 m, she clocked 57 seconds and then I realised that I was working with a champion. She always tell me she doesn’t run after medals, she runs after the clock. As a coach, people harboured a lot of expectations from me to scout talented athletes and polish them to become champions. Thanks to Hima’s feat, she has helped me achieve my dreams.”
Nipon Das first met Hima during the State-level meet in Sivasagar in 2016. But, he could “identify” her talent only in 2017 during a coaching camp in Guwahati. “I found her to be a bright prospect after watching her movements and way of doing things. After that … she kept on improving in every tournament,” her coach added.
With the Asian Games round the corner (read in August), Nipon, who has “given wings” to Hima’s dreams of ruling the roost on the tracks, is “extremely hopeful of a better performance from her”.
“I have high expectations from her and I am pretty sure she will accomplish all my dreams,” says the ‘man of the moment’ Das. Hima’s rise has been meteoric and it has happened very quickly but, going by the ‘sprint queen’s’ grit and ‘lot of fire in belly attitude’ she is sure to keep setting the tracks on fire in the years to come.