Mumbai: Behind every sporting champion there is an unsung hero. And when it comes to the record-breaking sprinter of India, Hima Das, it is the coach Nipon Das, who is the architect of her ‘castle success’.
Hima, also known as ‘Dhing Express’, hails from the town Dhing of Assam. She burst into prominence by winning the gold medal in the women’s 400-metre track event at the IAAF, World Under-20 Athletics Championships, held at the Tampere stadium of Finland in July 2018. Thus becoming the first-ever Indian sprinter to win a gold medal at an international track event.
Since then, there has been no looking back for her. In July 2019, she bagged 5 gold medals within a period of three weeks, in Poland and the Czech Republic, making the whole nation standing on its feet.
“Discipline, dedication and diligence – these three D’s have guided Hima throughout her journey,” said Nipon Das. Das was one of the firsts to recognise Hima’s potential and backed her to become successful.
Hima’s parents are farmers and she is the youngest among the five siblings. In school, she also had a knack for football and enjoyed playing the game.
She even played with the boys of her village; at times playing football matches for bets would also fetch her pocket money. It was during one of the sporting events in the state that Nipon spotted her and immediately took note of her performance.
“She had both perseverance and enthusiasm, but required proper training and guidance,” he said, implying the thought of making her run for the country had already crossed his mind by then. Following which, Das suggested Hima to shift in Guwahati for the training.
It was under his coaching, Hima participated in national competitions and came out with flying colors. As a result, her excellence grabbed the attention of national selectors.
“In Dhing, there was no proper sporting infrastructure and during monsoons, the grounds would submerge in water. She needed to follow strict diet as well. Hence, she had to come out,” explained Das.
Hima’s disciplinary approach to the sport astonished not only her coaches but also most of the staffs of her camp. She used to reach the tracks before reporting time and used to stay back for extra practice sessions.
Nipon Das couldn’t remember any instance, when Hima for once, did not follow what he said. Rather he only remembers Hima’s sheer hard-work and concentration on the field.
“Apart from sincerity, one of the primary qualities Hima possesses is that she is an eternal learner,” remarks Das.
Nipon further stated that her humility makes her stand out as a sportswoman, as she doesn’t forget her roots. “She comes from a humble family, raised by simplest of means, thus she never lets the success get into her head,” he adds.
Das believes, Hima is no more a sporting personality but has become a phenomenon in Assam. With her success and following her appointment to the UNICEF, as the country’s first-ever youth ambassador, umpteen numbers of girls have shown their interests in taking up athletics as a serious career option.
“In our country, especially in smaller states like Assam, girls don’t get the opportunity to create a life for their own. Hima’s real success lies in breaking the archaic mindsets with her achievements on the fields,” stated Das.