Dubai: Hima Das, the Indian sprint sensation who first shot into the limelight with her gold medal in 400m in the World Under-20 Championship in July last year, seems to be in unstoppable form again this month. A haul of five gold medals, across various invitational meets in eastern Europe, has made her the flavour of the month in Indian sport.
The ‘Dhing Express,’ as she is known after the village of India’s North Eastern state that she comes from, has assured Prime Minister Narendra Modi that she will continue to work hard and bring more medals for the country. The social media savvy Prime Minister took to the Twitter on Sunday, saying: “India is very proud of Hima Das’ phenomenal achievements over the last few days. Everyone is absolutely delighted that she has brought home five medals in various tournaments. Congratulations to her and best wishes for her future endeavours.”
Das, who signed a landmark endorsement with sportswear giant adidas when they released shoes carrying her name on it last year, had a memorable Sunday as President Ramnath Kovind and Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar also showered praise on the 19-year-old after she won her fifth gold medal in three weeks.
“Today evening was like a dream come true for me. Have got a call from the god of cricket and my inspiration Sachin Tendulkar sir. Thank you sir for your good wishes and inspirational words. I will leave no stone unturned for my mission,” Das said in a statement.
Das’ fifth gold of the month came on July 20 in the Czech Republic where she clocked a season-best time of 52.09 seconds to win the gold in 400m at the Nove Mesto and Metuji Grand Prix.
It was on July 17 that she won her fourth gold in 200m at the Tabor Athletics Meet, while on July 13 she won her third 200m gold at the Kladno Athletics Meet in Czech Republic with a time of 23.43 seconds.
She won her second 200m gold at the Kutno Athletics Meet in Poland on July 8 and in her first competitive 200m race of the year on July 2, Das clocked 23.65 seconds to win gold at the Poznan Athletics Grand Prix in Poland.
The wave of adulation that the teenager is riding is also going to have a spiralling effect on her brand value, according to sports management firm IOS who has handled her portfolio ever since she burst onto the scene last year. Speaking to the Indian media, Neerav Tomar, managing director of the company, said: “Hima’s brand value has doubled because of her consistent performance over the past three weeks.”
There are, however, words of caution and experience that these string of powerful performances will raise “unrealistic” expectations from her at the Tokyo Olympics. “We need to catch up a lot to be the real world standard. I am not being ultra-sceptical, but let us not jump the gun right now to put unreal burden on these budding athletes who are far away from the top world standards,” said Joydeep Karmakar, India’s Olympian shooter in London 2012 and a well-known coach, referring to Das and Dutee Chand’s medal-winning performances.
— With inputs from agencies