On 12 July 2018, sprinter Hima Das scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to win a gold at the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championships. The 18-year old clinched the top spot in the women’s 400m final race on the third day of competitions. Started as a pre-tournament favorite, Hima clocked 51.46s to win the coveted gold.
She now joins the illustrious company of star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who won a gold in Poland in the last edition in 2016 in a world record effort. In fact, Das is the first Indian track athlete to have won a medal in the history of this competition.
The previous medal winners at the World Junior Championships were Seema Punia (bronze in Discus in 2002) and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (bronze in Discus in 2014). Das was a favorite to win gold as she is the U-20 season leader in this quarter-mile event. Das clocked an Indian U-20 record of 51.32 seconds to finish sixth in the Commonwealth Games 400m final in Gold Coast in April.
Since then, she has gone onto improving her timings. She lowered the Indian U-20 record in 400m to 51.13 seconds while winning gold in the recent National Inter-State Championships in Guwahati.