Look towards rural India for exceptional athletic talents: Hima Das' first coach

Das' first love was football. However, it was her coach who convinced her family to allow her to take up athletics.

By Samrat Chakraborty

Hima Das, the first Indian athlete to win a World Athletics Championship gold medal in a track event (400m) at the IAAF World U20 Championships 2018, has achieved significant success since being catapulted into fame from the small town of Dhing in Assam.

Hima, fondly called as the Dhing Express, went on to bag a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games at Jakarta in 400m. She was also a part of the Women's 4×400m relay team and Mixed 4×400m that won gold at Jakarta. And she is just 21-year-old.

However, Das' first love was football. But her first coach Nipon Das thought it would be more fitting for her to take up athletics and even convinced her family the same. That became the turning point of her career.

Hima Das will be looking to qualify for Tokyo 2020 in the coming months

Nipon Das believes that aike Hima, there are a lot of children in rural India who are not aware of sports other than cricket and football and are in need of proper guidance.

"In rural areas, apart from cricket, football is the most popular sport there. However, there are a lot of sports activities in those regions that can help increase the chances of kids taking a liking for athletics. They are not even aware that there are so many other types of sports available which could catapult them to international success, just like Hima did," Das to the Barak Bulletin.

However, he remains optimistic that with the advent of the Khelo India Youth Games, more talents can be scouted from the rural areas of the nation.

"This (Khelo India Youth Games) has made scouting of talents quite possible nowadays (in rural areas). Besides, the government is now willing to spend for the betterment of the players. They are not skimping on it. It is possible to provide quality training from the state now," Nipon said.

Das heaped praise on his former pupil Hima and called her a special talent with a tough mentality.

"Usually, the success behind any athlete is mainly due to around 60% physical strength and 40% mental strength. But in the case of Hima, it's quite the opposite, mentally she's quite strong," he signed off.

Hima is yet to book a spot at the Tokyo Olympics, slated to be held in July and August this year. However, she is still one of the best Indian track and field athletes right now. It is clear that the country could do with a few more talents of her ilk.