Hima Das 🇮🇳 :The Record chaser..
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For most of her life, Hima Das has faced life’s challenges by running. She has run in rage and joy, after brawls and victories, and as if her life depended on it. The story of a young athlete from a village in Assam who won’t stop, not till she has outrun the clock.
Hima Das never cries. But last week she did. Twice. The first time, silently, and in public, while millions watched her standing on the winner’s deck in Tampere, Finland, as the notes of the Indian national anthem played in the background. The second time, she bawled. This was the morning after her record-making victory, in the privacy of her hostel room.
The night before Hima had slept fitfully. When she woke up and checked her phone, she had gone viral. In this emotionally charged moment, the otherwise hardboiled Hima, picked up the phone and dialled Assam. On the other end was her coach, a nonplussed Nipon Das, who had never seen or heard her like this. “What’s wrong, are you okay?” he asked, as she sobbed uncontrollably.
A few days later, Hima gave an exclusive primetime interview to Prag News, a popular local Assamese news channel, from Finland. When asked about this rare spectacle of emotion, she giggled, embarrassedly and said, “Automatic ahi gol (The tears had come spontaneously)”.
Actions like crying and emotions like fear and sadness aren’t typically Hima Das things. Though throwing your arms open before a camera and shouting “Mon jai”, is. Speaking a language you barely know without caring that you don’t, is. Taking to task boys who annoy you, or anyone else for that matter, is. And, of course, running like your life depends on it
“I don’t think I even understand the full meaning of athletics. Sometimes I feel I don’t know even know how to run,” says Hima, earphones strung around her neck, fiddling with the drawstring of her hooded grey T-shirt. It’s early July and we are sitting on the stands of Guwahati’s Sarusajai Stadium, the athletic tracks on which a little over a year ago Hima had landed for her first training camp, straight from the pothaars (fields) of her village Kandhulimari in Dhing.
How does she do it then? Hima shrugs, points upwards, and says, “It’s just ‘god gift’.” Ten days after the interview, Hima clocks 51.46 seconds at the womens’ 400 m final at the IAAF World Under 20 Championship 2018, in Tampere, creating history as the first Indian woman to win a gold on track at a global event — not even two years since she started professional training