Hima Das in the 400m at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 (© Getty Images)
With a power-packed finish, India’s Hima Das sealed her nation’s first ever medal in the 400m at the IAAF World U20 Championships, sling-shotting to the lead down the home straight and coming home a clear winner in 51.46.
It made her the first Indian woman to win a global title of any kind and the first Indian, male or female, to win a global track title.
Das had looked an overwhelming favourite for gold throughout the rounds, but on an evening of surprises it looked like another one was on the cards midway through the 400m final.
Das went off in conservative fashion, and was no better than fourth as she entered the final turn.
But, as she said afterwards, “my biggest strength is the last 100m.”
Australia’s Ella Connolly, Romania’s Andrea Miklos and USA’s Taylor Manson all appeared in better shape for victory, but Das finishes like few others in the world of one-lap running.
She torched up the home straight and was drawing away at the finish, coming home well clear of Miklos, who grabbed silver with a PB of 52.07.
Manson claimed bronze for USA with a strong run of 52.28, while Connolly was run out of the medals in fourth with 52.82.
“I'm very proud to hold the Indian flag on my shoulders,” said Das. “I'd like to thank India and my team leader and my coach.”
Back in second, silver was as good as gold for Miklos.
“I can't believe it!” she said. “It was very hard for me; my leg is all taped up so it was very hard to get second place. I just kept pushing because I wanted a medal very badly. I'm very confident that I can run with the seniors so I'm very happy.”
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF