Hima Das (born 9 January 2000), nicknamed the “Dhing Express”, is an Indian sprint runner from the state of Assam. She holds the current Indian national record in 400 metres with a timing of 50.79 s that she clocked at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. She is the first Indian athlete to win a gold medal in a track event at the IAAF World U20 Championships.
Das was born at Kandhulimari village, near the town of Dhing in the state of Assam to Ronjit and Jonali Das, who are rice farmers. She is the youngest of five children. She attended the Dhing Public high School and was initially interested in playing football. She played football with the boys at her school and had always wanted to pursue a career in football. However, she did not see any prospects for herself in women’s football in India. Later, upon advice from a school teacher she changed to sprint running.
In April 2018, Das competed in the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold coast, Australia, in the 400 metres and the 4×400 metres relay. In the 400 metres, Das reached the final where she finished sixth in a time of 51.32 seconds, 1.17 seconds behind gold medalist Amantle Montsho from Botswana. In the 4×400 metres relay she was part of the Indian team that finished seventh in the final, with a time of 3 minutes and 33.61 seconds.
On 12 July 2018, Das won the 400 m final at the World U-20 Championships 2018 held at Tampere, Finland, clocking 51.46 seconds and becoming the first Indian sprinter to win a gold medal at an international track event. Having run a slower first half, Das accelerated on the last 100 meter stretch, overtaking three competitors.
At the 2018 Asian Games, Das qualified for the 400 m final, after clocking 51.00 in heat 1 and setting a new Indian national record. On 26 August 2018, she improved the national record to 50.79 s in the 400 m final to win the silver medal. On 30 August 2018, she, along with M. R. Poovamma, Sarita Gayakwad and V. K. Vismaya won the women’s 4 × 400 metres relay clocking 3:28.72. Earlier on the same day, Das failed to qualify for the final of the 200 metres race, due to a false start in a semifinal. Hima also won a silver medal in the 4×400 m mixed relay, which was held for the first time at Asian Games.
In September 2018, Adidas signed an endorsement deal with Hima Das.
Awards and accolades
Das is the second Assamese runner after Bhogeswar Baruah to win a gold medal at an international event. Baruah won a gold medal at the 1966 Asian Games in the men’s 800 meter event. The Government of Assam appointed her as the state’s brand ambassador for sports.
She was conferred with Arjuna Award by the President of India on 25 September 2018.