“Since I have to travel extensively to take part in various athletic events, I always carry the gamocha with me which is my identity. I just want the people of Assam and India to bless me so that I can represent the country in more important sporting events abroad and also showcase the gamocha which is the pride of the people of Assam.”
This 18-year-old sprint queen from the sleepy village of Kandhulimari in Nagaon district of Assam said in a WhatsApp video that when she first won the gold, she immediately “grabbed” the Tricolour and the gamocha as these are not just “mere pieces of clothes for me but my identity and my self-pride”.
Hima’s village is one of the five Assamese villages on the eastern edge of the mighty Brahmaputra and the day the track queen scripted history by clinching 400 metres gold at the IAAF World U-20 Championships at Tampere in Finland – the whole village of 5,000 erupted in joy. People offered prayers at the namghar and it was almost a carnival-like atmosphere in the village with the locals playing the dhol, taal and gogona.
Hima’s mother Jonali Das recalls how Hima always “hated losing” since she was a child and had a “competitive streak” in her. The sprinter would practice running before dawn at the local grazing ground as the villagers let their cattle lose post-sunrise.
The doughty sprinter also said in the WhatsApp video that she does not run after gold, silver or bronze medals. She runs after time. “When the timing is good, all medals will fall into my lap,” she remarks. She profusely thanked the people of Assam and India for reaching the position where she is today. “When I had first got the gold medal, I was thrilled to bits – I became the first athlete in India to get gold and this was a real joyous moment for me. Maybe, my countrymen were more delighted than me. I thank the people of Assam and India once again and seek my countrymen’s blessings so that I continue to do well in big competitions in the future.
Hima says that it was a real “emotional moment” for her when the social media was full of – ‘Hima, Hima and Hima’. In fact, I have reached zenith today and the credit for it goes to my coaches Nipon Das and Nabajit Malakar. She signed off by saying, “I hope people’s blessings will always remain with me and I can continue to represent the country in major international events and promote our gamocha too.”