Amidst all the football fever with the World Cup, one of the biggest sporting events on the planet, taking place in Russia, and all the drama at Wimbledon, Hima Das has created history for India on the track.
Photo from: Wikipedia
On 12th July, in Tampere, Finland, Hima Das became the first Indian to win a track medal at the global stage when she took gold in the Women’s 400m at the U20 IAAF World Championships (the same competition at which Neeraj Chopra won Javelin gold two years ago). While the world focused on the World Cup and Wimbledon, two events unfortunately currently devoid of Indian competitors, Hima Das established herself as one to look out for in the near future.
The 18-year old, who has already participated at the senior level in the Gold Coast CWG earlier this year, was a favourite going into the final, having recorded 3 of the 5 fastest times this year. She was also the fastest through the heats and the semi-finals. In the final, she showed an excellent turn of pace over the home straight, which saw her win quite comfortably in the end (with a time of 51.46 seconds), overtaking silver medallist Andrea Miklós of Romania and bronze medallist Taylor Mansen of the United States, in the process.
Hima’s medal not only highlights her as one to keep an eye out for in the upcoming Asian Games, and maybe even next year’s Athletics World Championships (and who knows, perhaps Tokyo 2020), but also bodes well for India’s future in track & field. Her victory hints at an improving youth development program in the nation, and the historical significance of India’s first ever global track medal will galvanise many youngsters and the Indian athletics community to try and produce more future medallists.
We may see more joy at these U20 World Champs as there are some more events featuring Indians. Hima Das will likely be seen again in the Women's four by four Relay and we may have chances in the Men’s Javelin with Sahil Silwal shaping up quite nicely, his first attempt automatic qualification throw being the fifth best throw of the qualification stage.