Aa Assamese youngster Hima Das became the first Indian athlete to win a gold medal in a track event in world championship by bagging the first position in the women’s 400 M race in IAAF World U-20 Athletics Championship in Finland, former athlete Milkha Singh was all praise for the youngster. Singh, who had become India’s first-ever athlete to win a gold medal in Commonwealth Games in 1958, termed Hima’s achievement a historic one and said the athlete would improve with time at the senior level too.
“This is a great performance and a huge victory for not only Hima but also for athletics in India. I think she has done a remarkable job and has made the whole country proud. She has achieved the feat at an age of 18 years and it will motivate her to improve further at the senior level. The IAAF U-20 championships see the participation of world’s top junior athletes, including athletes from USA and European countries, and Hima’s historic performance will boost her confidence ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
She would need to train harder to prepare for the Olympics as the competition will be a lot tougher than the junior world championships. But we have seen teenage athlete winning a medal at Olympics and if given proper guidance, the youngster can achieve her dream,” said the veteran athlete.
In 2016, Panipat athlete Neeraj Chopra had created history by winning the gold medal in the javelin throw event in the IAAF World U20 Athletics Championship in Poland with a new junior world record. Earlier, Seema Punia had won the bronze in discus throw event in the 2002 IAAF U-20 Athletics Championship in 2002 and Navjeet Dhillon had won the bronze medal in discus throw event in the 2014 edition of the championship.
Eighteen-year-old Das, who finished sixth in the women’s 400 M event in the Commonwealth Games in Australia early this year, had created a new U20 national record of 51.13 seconds in the 400 M event in the Inter-State Athletics Championships in Guwahati. Indian athletes won three medals in Australia with Chopra winning the gold in javelin throw apart from Seema Punia and Amritsar athlete Navjeet Dhillon winning silver and bronze medals respectively in the women’s discus throw.
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“Hima has improved her timings this year and the new junior national record time set by her in Guwahati proved that. The 400 M race is also about timing your pace and strategy and she will understand this with time. The last three years have seen Neeraj Chopra winning the gold medal in IAAF U-20 Championship in 2016. It was also a historic moment. Seeing young athletes winning medals always delights me. The transition from the junior level to senior level is an important phase in an athlete’s life. Therefore, it is important for our athletes to practise harder and keep improving their timings in every 15 to 20 days,” Singh said.
The veteran athlete also pointed out the need for the good coaching staff for these athletes. “Coaches are the pillar strength of any athlete. I think coaches should be hired on a contractual basis. A coach can improve the performance of the team or the individual as he understands the nuances of the game better than anybody else. I would recommend hiring coaches on a contract basis to the athletics committee. This will ensure good results in the upcoming Olympics,” Singh said.
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