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Hima named Assam sports ambassador; awarded Rs 1.6 cr

Hima named Assam sports ambassador; awarded Rs 1.6 cr

Guwahati, Sep 7 (UNI) Star sprinter Hima Das was named the sports brand ambassador for Assam as the Asiad gold medalist was accorded a rousing welcome today on returning to her home state after winning back-to-back gold medals at the international level.

Hima, who is the only Indian athlete to win a gold at any track event in the international level, was also given a formal welcome by the state government, where she was handed cash award of Rs 1.6 crore for her two gold medals, including one in Jakarta Asian Games, and two silver medals in the same Games.

Thanking the government and the people of the state for showering her with their blessings and honour, an emotional Hima said, “I am happy that I have been able to bring smiles on the faces of my people. I request everyone to continue showering their blessings on me, and leave the task of bringing more glory to the state to me. Everyone wants a medal at the Olympics from me and I assure to try my best. The gold will come soon.”

She added that she will continue to run to improve her timing rather than for medals to improve her ranking from current 52nd in the world and said, “Timing is all crucial. If times are good, medals and fortunes will follow.”

Mentioning the contribution of her 17-member extended family in her upbringing, she said her father’s advice to remain grounded drives her forward and added, “My father reminds me that if pride seeps into me, it will cause my downfall. I always go by it.”

“Maybe, I have changed a bit with time, I have got a little stylish, but that’s about it,” Hima added with a laugh, mentioning how her father pointed to her latest frayed jeans at the airport today.

Seeking to share credit for her success with her coaches, she said, “I am so grateful for this honour today. But I feel, coaches and mentors should get equal recognition and honour. Besides my parents and my family, my coaches Samsul sir, Nipon sir, Nabajit sir, Gauri sir and Dr Putul Sarma, among others, are the reason where I am today.”

Hima also recounted her felicitation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said the speech of the PM before the players on overcoming humble background to conquer the world had inspired her a lot.

The 18-year-old sprinter pointed that the cash award given to her would serve as motivation for other players as this money is offered under the state’s sports policy and they, too, will be eligible for it when they bring medals for the country.

An active All Assam Students Union (AASU) local leader herself, Hima urged the 27 students and youth organizations of various communities in the state and all 126 MLAs to groom at least one athlete and artist from their areas every year so that more fame would come for the state from them.

“I have travelled to many places now. But nothing can match the beauty of my state and the taste of food here. I have spoken out my heart today, it is good to be able to speak in Assamese after so long,” she added.

Felicitating Hima, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said she is an inspiration to the entire nation and urged her to stride forward in her disciplined and focused manner.

He also offered her a position of officer-level in the Sports and Youth Welfare directorate.

Arjun awardee Bhogeswar Baruah, the first Assamese to win a gold in 800m run in 1966 Asiad, was also present on the occasion and hoped that Hima will be able to win India the elusive medal in track events in the Olympics.

Three other players from the state who had participated in the Jakarta Asiad – Rodali Baruah, Ashmita Chetia and Pramila Daimary, were also present at the felicitation programme, with was attended by the vice-present and the secretary general of the Indian Olympic Association, several ministers of Assam and other dignitaries.

Hima was today formally offered the position of sports ambassador of Assam, with a two-year contract of Rs 16 lakh per annum.

The ‘Dhing Express’, as she is popularly known as, received Rs 50 lakh each for the two gold medals at World U-20 Athletics Championship and Jakarta Asiad, and Rs 30 lakh each for the two silver medals at Jakarta.

Hima hails from a farmers’ family in a small village in Dhing area of central Assam and had shot to fame by clinching the gold in 400 m run at the IAAF World U-20 Athletics Championship in Finland in July last.


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