The viral video of young Hima Das surging past her competitors in the last few moments of the 400 metres run at the World Junior Athletics Championships to win the gold cemented the fact that this was a sprinter that India, and the world for that matter, would not easily forget. But long before the whole world came to know of this young sprinter or her potential, it was her parents, friends, relatives, teachers and coaches who spotted the ‘fire in her belly’. We tell the story of this gifted sprinter through the tales of the people who helped her get to where she is now.
Hima was born to a humble joint family in Kaandhulimari village, 3 kilometres from Dhing. It is an unassuming village and there is nothing in particular that will catch your eye once you arrive, but there is one thing that makes this place special and that is the warmth of the locals. The moment I knock on the door of an Assam-type house, that I am told is Hima’s residence by friendly villagers, I am welcomed inside by her parents with the quintessential Assamese hospitality that has become a lost art in the bigger cities across the State. Her father, a farmer by profession and her mother, a friendly housewife insist on making all efforts to ensure that I am comfortable. The inside of the house is humble and there is nothing pretentious about the decor or the way they both converse with countless journalists who