New Delhi, July 17: Till a few days back, the world hardly knew about this rice farmers daughter from Dhing who had her goals set for a big win.
Now, she can’t get over all the attention and appreciations she is receiving after becoming world’s best Under-20 women’s 400 meters runner.
Hima Das’ road to success is no less than a Bollywood story. However, her coach Nipon Das feels that this is just a start for her on the road to victory as she will get a medal again in the Asian Games.
“She always had the zeal and dedication to achieve her dreams and make it happen. When I met her for the first time in January 2017, I knew that she will touch the sky and will do something great for the country,” Nipon , the athletics coach with the Directorate of Sports and Youth Welfare, told IANS in a telephonic conversation from Guwahati.
Coming from a little known village in Assam’s hinterlands, Hima clinched the top spot in the women’s 400m final race in the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championships in Tampere (Finland).
But before this big win, the 18-year-old had to spend days practicing football in the mud pits adjoining rice fields. This was the time when Nipon met her.
He convinced her parents to shift her to Guwahati and got her admitted to the state academy that only served in boxing and football. He along with state coach Nabajit Malakar were so impressed with her talent that they took loans to send her to the World Youth Championships in Kenya the same year.
Talking about her love for game, Nipon said: She was always into 100 and 200-metre race and was doing great, but we thought that she can do better in 400 metres as well. I started taking her trial for 400 metres and she performed really well. After that, her schedule for 400-metre race started.
“I feel that Hima is very hard working, dedicated and has strong psychological power. She learns by observing things. She has good relations with everybody. When she is on ground, nothing can distract her except work,” Nipon told IANS.
He also says that Hima always liked training with the boys.
“That was a strategy. If a girl trains with a boy, her performance improves. She has a high confidence level and when she thinks of doing something, she ends up doing that,” he said.
Even her family was very supportive.
“When I told her to shift to Gauwahati, the first thing she said that, ‘I have to consult my family’ and her family took no time to give her the permission. For them, she was going to do something great for the country. She has a joint family and every member is very supportive,” he said.
“Now I am thinking of supporting her younger sister too. I have a plan to go to Assam and look out for talents who can do great in sports and can represent India. I will support the candidate in every way possible. Even Hima has the same plan,” he added.
Nipon says that till a few days ago, nobody knew who Hima Das was but now world has changed.
“People are calling me to say that they will support Hima in whatever way possible. In the same way, we want to support other players and this is our motive. We saw one Hima conquering the world, we want to give more such Himas to the world,” he said.
Talking about her future goals, Nipon is confident that she will win big at Asian Games too.
“I am sure she is going to win the Asian Games too. She is more confident than me. She keeps telling me ‘Sir I never run after medals but against time’. When I will take less time to finish a race, I will automatically win. She will definitely make India proud once again at Asian Games,” he said. The 2018 games will start on August 18 in Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia.
While she received congratulatory messages from all sections of society, there were some who were looking for her caste while searching about her.
Talking about how it will take time to change people’s perception, Nipon said: “Only some people think negatively. They never want to see someone succeed. Every person is born to criticize but some criticisms are constructive and it should be case with everyone. However, we cant stop people from thinking what they want to. This is the part of the behavior and one can’t control that.”
(Nivedita can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)