“I don’t go out on the track thinking that I will win a medal. What I think is about running faster and faster and I believe that will translate into medals”.
New Delhi : “I am living a dream”, said Hima Das as she tried to put in words her remarkable journey from being a stubborn footballer in a nondescript Assam village to becoming the first Indian woman world champion in athletics.
The 18-year-old Das, daughter of farmer parents at Kandhulimari village at Nagaon district, has become the toast of the nation after she won a gold at the IAAF World U-20 Athletics Championships in Finland on Thursday.
She is also the first Indian — male or female — to have won a gold in a track event at the world level. She joined Neeraj Chopra who won a gold in javelin — a field event — in the IAAF World U-20 Championships in the last edition in 2016 in Poland.
Her father Ronjit Das has a 2 bigha (0.4 acres) plot of land and her mother Junali is a housewife. The small piece of land was the only source of income for a family of six. “I know my family’s condition and how we struggled. But the Almighty has something for everybody. I am a positive person and I want to look ahead in life and do something for my parents and for the country,” Das said from Tampere in Finland on Friday.
“But it has been like a dream so far. I am now a world junior champion,” she added.
Das is the eldest of four siblings. She has three younger sisters and a younger brother. “She is very stubborn, if she wants to do something she will not listen to anybody but she will do it with aplomb. She is a strong girl and that is why she is coming up to achieve something. I hope she will do something for the country,” her father Ronjit said from his village in Assam.
Das, though, is not thinking too far ahead and wants to just run faster. “I don’t go out on the track thinking that I will win a medal. What I think is about running faster and faster and I believe that will translate into medals,” she said.
AFI appologise for tweet
The Athletics Federation (AFI) of India on Saturday put its foot in the mouth when it referred to Hima Das’ “not so fluent english” after her blazing run, attracting the ire of fans which forced the governing body to issue an apology in chaste Hindi.
“#HimaDas speking to media after her SF win at #iaaftampere2018 @iaaforg Not so fluent in English but she gave her best there too. So proud of u #HimaDas Keep rocking & yeah,try ur best in final!” the AFI wrote on its twitter handle.
The severe backlash prompted the AFI to issue a clarification. “We apologise to the country if our tweet hurt sentiments. We merely wanted to show that Hima is fearless whether on the track or outside. Despite being from a small village, she spoke freely with the foreign media. We apologise again to those who were offended,” translated a tweet which was posted in Hindi by the AFI.