India’s Hima Das created history by winning the gold medal in the women’s 400 metre event at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland on Thursday. Hima registered a time of 51.46 seconds in the final at the Ratina Stadium to become the first Indian track athlete to win gold in a world championship across all age groups. This was, however, not her personal best as she had clocked 51.13 last month in Guwahti at the National Inter State Championships. Running in lane number 4, Das was behind Romania’s Andrea Miklos at the final bend but produced a stunning burst in the final 50-100m stretching to cross the finishing line well ahead of the field. Miklos took the silver medal with time of 52.07 seconds while Taylor Manson of USA was third with 52.28 seconds.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Hima for making the country proud. “India is delighted and proud of athlete Hima Das, who won a historic Gold in the 400m of World U20 Championships. Congratulations to her! This accomplishment will certainly inspire young athletes in the coming years,” he tweeted.
Historically, India has struggled in global track and field events and Hima’s achievement is one of the biggest sporting achievement of the country. Milkha Singh won four Asiad Golds, while PT Usha won four in Asiad 1986. Both Usha and Milkha finished 4th in the Olympics.
Das joined javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who won gold in Poland in the last edition in 2016 in a world record effort. Das is the first Indian track athlete to have won a medal in the history of this competition. The other medal winners have been – Seema Punia (bronze in discus in 2002) and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (bronze in discus in 2014).