Guwahati: Khandulimari, a remote area of Nagaon’s Dhing village in Assam, is once again buzzing with activity. This is the home of Hima Das, the 18-year-old sprinter, who made history last month by becoming the first Indian woman to clinch a gold medal at a global event – the World Under-20 Championships in Finland. Hima is already in Jakarta, Indonesia, and is looking forward to her debut at the ongoing Asian Games 2018.
In the run-up to her first event on August 25 (Saturday), several villagers of Dhing, located about 150 km from Guwahati, are now making a beeline to religious establishments. On Tuesday, a large number of Hima’s well-wishers thronged the community temple located at Khandulimari and offered xorai (a traditional Assamese offering) to seek the almighty’s blessings, said a local resident. Special prayer meets are also being held in nearby mosques and churches for the success of Hima, the country’s fastest female quarter-miler with a personal best of 51.13 seconds.
Hima’s friends are also excited. Bhaskar Jyoti Nath, a close friend of Hima and one of the seven members of a ‘group’ called ‘Mon Jai’ (which, in Assamese, literally means ‘I feel like’) that the sprinter is also a part of, said: “Like any other event of hers, this time too, we are planning to watch her live at her house. However, this time, we are planning to install a giant projector screen. We have also invited people from other areas to come and see the event on the big screen.” Interestingly, Hima is the only female member of Mon Jai, formed in 2013.
As per Nath, Hima and the other members of ‘Mon Jai’ have been united as a team right from their childhood. For Hima’s parents, on the other hand, the group members are like their children.
“Except the gold-medal winning performance at the World Under-20 championship in Tampere, Finland, recently, Mon Jai members have watched all her events along with her parents at home,” said Nath, adding: “Before the start of every match, Hima makes it a point to call her parents, her coaches and at least one member of Mon Jai.”
“Today, too, she called me up and asked me to wish for her during the event. Apart from that, we usually exchange jokes and other lighter things over phone. Hima never targets medals, she just wants to improve her timings,” added Nath.
Meanwhile, Nipon Das and Nabajit Malakar, two of Hima’s personal coaches, are leaving for Jakarta on Tuesday evening to be with her during the event on Saturday.
“She rang me up today and requested us to be with her during the run. She told me not to worry about her performance. She just wants us to be there,” said Das.
Das, who is likely to reach the Games venue ahead of Hima’s evening practice session on Wednesday evening, also believes that their presence will definitely inspire and motivate her to give it her best shot at the Games. Not only Hima, her parents, too, wanted both of them to be at Jakarta.
Apart from some personal items of Hima, the coaches are also carrying traditional Assamese gamosas with them to the Games venue.