Bringing laurels for India, the star sprinter from Assam, Hima Das, won silver the women’s 400 m race of Asian Games 2018 at Indonesia’s Jakarta on Sunday by finishing at 50.79 seconds breaking her all-time personal and national record.
The gold was won by Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser who finished at 50.09 seconds.
Eighteen-year-old Hima Das is the second athlete after Bhogeswar Baruah to have won a medal in Asian Games. Bhogeswar Baruah, an Arjuna Award winner, is a 800 m gold medallist in the 1966 Asian Games.
Another player from Assam, boxer Shiva Thapa lost to China’s Jun Shan in men’s 60 kg round of 16 bout of the Asian Games 2018 on Sunday.
On Saturday, Hima Das drew the attention of the world by finishing the women’s 400 m race of the Asian Games 2018 at 51 seconds, breaking her personal and national record, in Indonesia’s Jakarta and entered the final.
In the qualification round on Saturday, Hima stood second while Naser remained on top by finishing at 50.86 seconds.
Hima Das, who hails from Dhing in Assam’s Nagaon district, scripted history by becoming the first ever Indian woman to win gold at the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championships held at Tampere in Finland.
It was reported that it would be tough for Hima Das to clinch gold in her first Asian Games unless Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser goofs up big time.
Naser, who hails from Nigeria, is the 2017 World Championships silver medallist and won four legs of the prestigious Diamond League Series in 2018.
Earlier, when asked about her chances of winning medal at the Asiad 2018, Hima Das told the media, “I don’t run after medals but after timing.”
Hima Das’ timing of 51.32 seconds at the Commonwealth Games placed her sixth in a world-class field but a run in 51.46 seconds at Tampere made her the first Indian woman to win a gold at an IAAF World Junior Championships.
On the other hand, Salwa Eid Naser’s best timing is 49.08 seconds while finishing second in the Monaco leg Diamond League Meeting last month, which is the Asian record and second-leading time in the world this season.
It may be mentioned that in order to encourage Hima Das, her coach Nipon Das and singer Zubeen Garg are already camping in Jakarta.
Meanwhile, seeking blessings so that Hima can win gold in Asiad 2018, people in various parts of Assam including her village at Dhing in Nagaon have organized Naam Kirtan (chanting) and have prayed for the new track sensation. Assam BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass also offered prayers and lit lamp at historic Athkhelia Naamghar in Golaghat on Sunday seeking blessings for the sprinter.
Enlivened by the “outstanding” performance of sprint queen Hima Das Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said recently that a games period would be made mandatory in schools after reducing the syllabus by 50 per cent next year.
After her win in the Junior Athletics Championship, the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, congratulated Hima, on her achievement. Kovind tweeted, “Congratulations to our sensational sprint star Hima Das for winning the 400 m gold in the World Under-20 Championship. This is India’s first ever track gold in a World Championship. A very proud moment for Assam and India, Hima; now the Olympic podium beckons!”
The Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal, had also congratulated the 18-year-old sprint queen.
The 18-year old sprinter, after finishing sixth in the Commonwealth Games 400 m final in Gold Coast in April, has gone onto improving her timings. She lowered the Indian U-20 record in 400 m to 51.13 seconds while winning gold in the recent National Inter State Championships in Guwahati.