19-year-old Indian woman athlete Hima Das is on a gold-winning spree. On Saturday, she won her fifth gold medal in a span of 19 days. People from all over India and all spheres of life have taken out time to congratulate the teenager as she has made the entire country proud.

The list includes the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Who is Hima Das?

The 19-year-old sensation Hima Das is a resident of Dhing village in Assam. The youngest of five siblings, Hima’s father is a farmer. At her home, no one gave importance to sports or thought of sports as a viable career option.

Her father did not have enough resources to support Hima’s training for professional sports. Despite her family’s difficult financial condition, Hima kept on working hard which clearly showed the dividends in the form of World Championship gold medals.

As per a report published in ESPN, Hima Das did not have a very comfortable childhood. Her journey was filled with obstacles and hurdles. But under the guidance of her coach Nipon Das, Hima rose to great heights.

Dreamt of becoming a footballer

Interestingly, prior to becoming India’s ace athlete, Hima was interested in becoming a footballer. She used to play football with and against the boys in her locality. She was even a member of the school football team and was a striker with a local football club as she dreamt of playing for India one day.

In 2016, a Physical Education teacher in her school, Shamsul Hoque, explained to her the difficulties in professional sports, especially in football, and suggested her to pick up any individual sport.

It was then that she looked at athletics as an option. In her village in Assam, known as Dhing, she practised running on marshy lands.

Hima’s story is as much about a teacher as it is about a student. It was when she switched to athletics that she was spotted by her present trainer and mentor Nipon Das.

Nipon was very impressed with the raw talent and ability that she seemed to possess. In spite of wearing modest shoes, Hima did not only compete in but won 100 and 200 meters races at the local level.

A big credit goes to Nipon Das who took care of everything else to allow Hima to focus on her sport. He convinced Hima and her family to let the now gold medalist sprinter stay in Guwahati as that was the best place for basic sporting infrastructure.

Even though Hima or her family could not afford her expenses in Guwahati, Nipon came to the rescue. It is worth noting here that only 24 months prior to making headlines for the first time, Hima had donned a proper spike for the first time- a testimony to the magic that belief, hard work and perseverance can produce together.

When Hima did not believe in herself, Nipon did in her and if it is the victory of Hima’s talent and hard work that is reaping fruits in the form of gold medals. It is the victory of Nipon’s belief and hard work too.

Assam, a state with insufficient sporting infrastructure, produced a Hima Das. Many Indians themselves could not believe it. Imagine the possibilities when sporting infrastructure reaches every nook and corner of the country!
But the question remains what is stopping us to achieve that?