Hima Das, nicknamed the Dhing Express, became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal at the AAF World U20 Championships in 2018, clocking a speed of 51.46 seconds – an event, she says, “changed her life”. Over the years, the athlete, who always wanted to play football, went on to win many other laurels for the country – gold in the 4x100m women’s relay Asian Games 2018, 200m gold medal at Tabor Athletics Meet Czech Republic, and many many more.

Unfortunately, the national camper pulled her muscle while competing in the 100m heats at the 60th National Senior Inter-State Athletics Championships, and could not participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games. She, then, also got affected by Covid-19. But now, she is back after full recovery, and training “full-swing”. In an exclusive interaction with indianexpress.com, the athlete talks about her historic win, her injury, diet and wellness routine and also reveals the one thing she misses the most.

Read on to know more:

You became the first Indian woman to win gold at IAAF World U20 Championships – how has life changed for you since then?

Haha. That feels like a long time ago now. Yes, life obviously changed. For the better certainly, so that is the good part. So much love, adulation. And with it, expectations, and responsibility. And rightly so. But in all this, the love for sprinting has not gone down one bit and that is the best part.

You recently made a comeback on the track after battling Covid, and a long injury. How does it feel?

The actual track comeback is yet to happen, however training has been in full-swing at Trivandrum. Federation Cup was a really good beginning for me. Looking forward to give my best in the coming tournaments.

Being an athlete requires one to take immense care of their diet and fitness. What does your daily diet and wellness routine consist of?

Here, at the Trivandrum facility all these things are taken care of by a team. So, our coach plans everything out well in advance with the coaches and support staff. Then basis changing body requirements, diet and wellness plans are reviewed and changes made. Nowadays, everything is very scientific and processes are almost same across the world. It is how well you absorb them and use them to improve upon your skill that separates the best from the rest.

You have truly shaped your world, and are an inspiration to many. How would you describe your journey?

Well, I have enjoyed every bit of it. I could never dream of the things that happened to me after that gold medal. But now, I crave for more. I have always felt that when once we start believing in ourselves, there is nothing that can stop us. This is one of the reasons that I partnered up with Levi’s, as they saw how ‘I Shaped My World’ and that is something I want the younger generation to be inspired by.

What is the most challenging thing about being an athlete… something you had not thought you’d have to do?

To give up on home-cooked food; and I always miss my mom.

Being a sportsperson can be extremely demanding – for the body and mind, both. How do you manage to keep stress away and take care of your mental health?

Well, we have a very friendly atmosphere where we train to begin with so that keeps us all cheery. Apart from that, we do meditationplay other sport and many other such things that help us keep focused and energetic at the same time.

What is your ultimate goal?

To win gold medals for India at the highest level.

If you had to give tips to young athletes, what would you say?

If you are passionate about somethingnever let anyone dissuade you away from it.

Has being a woman ever felt as a deterrent on your path to success? If yes, can you share details?

To be honest, I have personally never felt it, but I know of many who face such challenges in everyday life. You see, even a full-fledged Women’s IPL is taking so long to start even in today’s day and age. But, I am hopeful that things are changing fast and will change even more.

The one thing you do before every track event?

I always remember my mom and god.

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