As­sam teenager Das brings swag to the ta­ble

Mid Day - - TIMEPASS - G RAJARAMAN sports@mid-day.com

HIMA Das has al­ready cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion of the In­dian sports fan, the IAAF World U-20 Ath­let­ics Cham­pi­onships 400m gold in Tam­pere, Fin­land com­ing as an af­fir­ma­tion of her grow­ing stature. For the first time, an In­dian ath­lete went in with many ex­pect­ing her to dom­i­nate the field. Das, 18, has spawned ex­cit­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties in In­dian sport.

It is al­ways heart-warm­ing to see a new name sur­face, but when it comes to a sport that 200 na­tions com­pete in, it is so much more spe­cial. The girl from Dhing vil­lage in Na­gaon district, coached by Nipon Das, has raised the ban­ner for track ath­letes by be­com­ing the first In­dian to win gold at this level.

There is no doubt that ex­pec­ta­tions will now grow, not only from Das, but also from other track and field ath­letes. The teenaged sprinter will be un­der pres­sure to dom­i­nate the Asian Games. She was unini­ti­ated in hav­ing to deal with pres­sure of ex­pec­ta­tion and that is one layer that she will have to add soon.

There was a time when swag and the In­dian ath­lete were alien to one an­other, with stray ex­cep­tions. The As­sam teenager brings that to the ta­ble, her con­fi­dence in her lasting power and per­haps her abil­ity to de­lay the on­set of lac­tic acid dur­ing the one-lap­per giv­ing her rea­son and room to show­case style.

It has been a re­mark­able last few four months for her. From the time she stormed to the fore as a quar­ter-miler ahead of the Com­mon­wealth Games this year — she clocked a mind-bog­gling 51.97 sec­onds in just her sec­ond race, the fi­nal of the Fed­er­a­tion Cup in Pa­tiala — to the World U-20 crown, has been a fas­ci­na­tion jour­ney. Since PT Usha, no In­dian track star has raised such ex­pec­ta­tions, but to be the first since the on­set of cable and satel­lite tele­vi­sion in the early 1990s, raises her pro­file man­i­fold.

There was a time when swag and the In­dian ath­lete were alien to one an­other. Hima Das brings that to the ta­ble, her con­fi­dence in her lasting power and her abil­ity to de­lay the on­set of lac­tic acid dur­ing the onelap­per giv­ing her rea­son and room to show­case style

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