Hima Das, remember the name.
India’s ‘Golden Girl‘ made history on Thursday by claiming the country’s first ever gold medal at a world track event.
Das raced to victory in the 400m at the IAAF World U-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland clocking 51.46 seconds.
An exhilarating moment for the 18-year-old sensation.
Overwhelmed by emotion, Hima couldn’t hold back the tears on the podium.
And her country woke up with a new hero.
The country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was one of the first to congratulate with her.
Only a few days ago, the 67-year-old praised India’s gymnastics trailblazer Dipa Karmakar.
Hima Das is the youngest of six siblings born into a rice farming family in the north-eastern village of Dhing, Assam.
Her neighbours saw her ability early on, giving her the affectionate nickname the ‘Dhing Express‘.
Always spirited, always brave, Das dreamed of playing football for India as a young girl.
But when her coach spotted how quick she was on the pitch, he convinced her to switch to sprinting.
In the absence of a running track in Dhing, Hima was forced to train on a dusty (or muddy, depending on the season) football field.
A STELLAR RISE
The 18-year-old has only been training on spikes for the past two years.
And when she had the opportunity to relocate and train at the Sarusajai Sports Complex in Guwahati (a three-hour drive from home), her father was just happy she could eat three meals a day.
Out of the dust then came the dream.
After being spotted at an inter-district meet in 2016, Das hasn’t looked back while enjoying a stellar rise through the ranks of junior athletics.
“She is as determined as a rock. Even when I was scared of sending her to train outside our village, she would tell me not to worry. I was motivated by her courage” – Hima’s father Ranjit Das to ‘Times of India’
Neighbours talk of a feisty and focused young girl who’s unafraid to challenge accepted norms.
Like the time she led a campaign against the ‘country liquor vends’ in her town – damaging illegal alcohol sales – and won.
Gaining momentum comes naturally to this young star in waiting, and now she is establishing herself on the international stage.
INDIA’S NEW DARLING
Das became the toast of India overnight and the cream of the country’s sporting and cinema scene have been queuing up to lavish praise on her.
Olympic badminton silver medallist PV Sindhu had just one word for the junior champ: congratulations!
India’s superstar cricketer Sachin Tendulkar called it “the beginning of a new era”.
Now Bollywood stars like Amitabh Bachan and Akshay Kumar know the name Hima Das and are unlikely to be allowed to forget it.
India’s new track star has a personal best of 51.13 in the 400m and big potentialfor improvement.
Last April she finished sixth in the 100m final on her maiden Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
After her exploit in Tampere, the 18-year-old has also received extra goverment support in preparation for Tokyo 2020.
Hima Das’ journey is just beginning, but she has already captured the imagination of an entire nation.