by Kushal Choudhary
Hima Das is a sprint runner from Assam who currently holds the Indian national record in the 400 m sprint category. A 21-year old Dalit woman, she has competed in many international events and has been a consistent sprint runner winning several titles. Her national record was achieved in the 2018 Asian Games.
Hima was born on 9 January 2000 in a small village called Kandhulimari, near the town of Dhing in the state of Assam. Her parents, Jonita Das and Ronjit Das are rice farmers. Ronjit Das, her father, was the earliest of Hima’s coaches,and began training her in sports since she was only 9 years old. Her mother, Jonita often speaks of her as a competitive person since childhood.
Later in school, she was supported by her sports teacher, Shamsul Hoque, who spotted her talent. Initially, Hima was interested in football and has been playing the sport in her school team and a local football club. Hoque advised her to choose an individual sport against a team sport such as football that may be difficult to build a career in. She chose running and started competing in district and state level competitions. Her impressive talent was later spotted by Nipon Das in 2017, who is her current mentor. Nipon’s support was vital to her winning streaks and glorious achievements. It was he who convinced her and her family to train in the city of Guwahati, given its better sports infrastructure.
After hard-core training that lasted a year and a half, , she participated in the Under 20 IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) World Championships, held in Tampere, Finland when she was 19 years old. In the 400 metre event, she finished gold and clocked at 51.46 seconds. She became the first Indian ever to achieve a gold medal at the World Championships. And on top of that, she set the national record of 51.46 seconds for 400 metre sprint. Later in the same year, she participated in the 2018 Asian Games and broke her own record, clocking at 50.79 seconds and scoring a silver in the 400 metre sprint event. She also achieved great successes in team athletics such as 4X100m women’s and mixed relay events at the Asian Games. The Indian team won gold in both the events.
In 2019, she scored five consecutive gold medals at the European circuit in a span of 19 days.
In the span of three years, 2017 to 2019, Hima has achieved her best yet, from a talented national sprint runner to making it big at internationals and continues to strive to better her sporting career. Hima is the second person from Assam to achieve a gold medal at an international event. She has also been inducted as the Deputy Superintendent of Assam Police in February 2021. She has said that it was a childhood dream that has come true.
Today in #DalitHistory, we celebrate the legend that Hima Das is!
Kushal is an independent writer based in Banaras, Uttar Pradesh. He is interested in the history of traditional and modern cultures of India. You can reach them at their email: firstname.lastname@example.org or through twitter: @kushalpitfall