Kudos to Hima Das who has made the whole nation feel proud. The sprouted talent needs to be nurtured with all care and attention. While the congratulatory tweet from PM and our President was a deserved pat on the athlete that of AFI was in bad taste. The AFI’s remarks about Hima’s poor English lays bare its armchair attitude, which may cause bias in its approach towards the athletes with lesser command over English.
India is delighted and proud of athlete Hima Das, who won a historic Gold in the 400m of World U20 Championships. This accomplishment will certainly inspire young athletes in the coming years. This is India’s first ever track gold in a World Championship. A very proud moment for Assam and India, Hima; now the Olympic podium beckons.
In a country where we track a sport which is just played essentially in 8 countries, Hima Das winning in a truly international sport is exceptional. Unfortunately, athletes in India are paid peanuts, explains why many don’t pursue it. I hope unlike Anju Bobby George whose exploits have been forgotten and Neeraj Chopra who at best gets TOPS deals, I hope in future sportswomen like Hima Das are paid substantially, else we can typically ask for Olympic medals and never get it. When cricketers make in hundreds of crores, an international sport like Athletics also needs a better treatment. With just OGQ and TOPS, if we can win U20 gold then if we pay in crores we will get Olympic medals. Otherwise, we will continue to talk about Milka Singh and PT Usha forgetting Shriram Singh, Vikas Gowda and Seema Punia who were all in the top 8 but never won a medal. Athletes in India need to be respected.
Das finished fifth at the 100m, but in September she showed what she was capable of by finishing first at the 200m at the Chennai Indian Open. At the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games this April, Hima finished sixth at the 400m (51.32 seconds) and seventh at the 4x400m relay. However, her personal best at the 400m didn’t come in Tampere, but at the Inter-State Championships at Guwahati this June where she clocked 51.13 seconds. Her rise has been steady this year, with podium finishes at 100m, 200m, 400m and 4x400m relay at Patiala, Jakarta (for the Asian Games pre-tournament) and Guwahati. Ahead of the Tampere 400m final, Hima cruised into the semi-final as the fastest qualifier overall, clocking 52.25s. She entered the women’s 400m final after winning the semi-final in 52.10s.
(The latter part of the Diary will be continued tomorrow.)
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)