Hima Das became the first Indian woman to clinch a gold medal at a global event – the World Under-20 Championships in Finland on Thursday. Das clinched the top spot in the women’s 400m final race at the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championships in Tampere, Finland. Das, 18, justified her pre-tournament favourite tag by clocking 51.46s to win gold, which triggered wild celebrations inside the Indian camp.
This was, however, not her personal best as she had clocked 51.13 last month in Guwahti at the National Inter State Championships. No Indian woman before Das had won gold medal in a World Championship at any level, be it youth, junior or senior. She is also the first Indian – man or woman – to have won a gold in a track event at the world level.
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.
“I am very happy to win the gold in the World Junior championships. I want to thank all the Indians back home and also those, who were here cheering me. It was very encouraging to have this kind of support,” she said after the race.
Das joins the company of 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).