From handwritten labels to custom branding: Hima Das' aspirational tale
Hima Das could only dream of owning the latest in sports equipment when she was growing up.
So much that she scribbled the name of a leading brand on a pair of regular running shoes during her early years as an athlete.
But as the Indian athlete met with success over time, her dream turned into a reality she had never envisaged.
"When I started running, I ran barefoot. But in my first Nationals, my father brought running shoes with spikes on them," she narrated during an Instagram Live session with cricketer Suresh Raina.
"It was just a normal pair of running shoes. I wrote 'Adidas' on the shoes with my hand. You never know what fate can do, Adidas is now making shoes with my name."
Hima Das began to be sponsored by the German brand after she had won the gold medal in the 400m at the 2018 World U-20 Championships in Finland.
She had recorded 51.46 seconds to become India's first-ever track gold medallist at the IAAF event, and her Adidas shoes now have her name emblazoned on one side and 'create history' written on the other.
Hima Das also revealed that the 2018 Junior World Championship, which made her a household name overnight in the country, was not even in her plans.
"I was preparing for the Asian Games at that time and went to Prague for training. AFI (Athletics Federation of India) asked me to participate in the World U-20 Championships and I won gold," Hima Das said.
Hima Das followed the IAAF World U-20 Championships with a silver medal in the individual 400m and a gold medal each in women’s 400m and mixed 400m relay races at the 2018 Asian Games.
And the athlete believes that Indian athletics’ success in Jakarta, Indonesia, where the contingent won a whopping 20 medals, saw “people started following athletics more than ever”.
“People know the athletes and fans chant your name, it gives you extra motivation,” she said.
Hima Das’ Olympic chances
The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus outbreak has been a blessing in disguise for the Indian athlete, especially after the mixed 2019 season that she had.
After bagging five back-to-back gold medals in about a month in the Czech Republic, Hima Das was to compete at the World athletics championships in Doha, when a back injury ruled her out.
It was followed by a fever that cost her three weeks of training over December and January.
Consequently, her lack of speed and endurance training saw the AFI pegging the World Junior 400-metre champion and Asian Games silver medallist for the 200m event.
However, the athlete has managed to recover in the forced break owing to the nationwide lockdown and will be looking to seal an Olympic berth in the coming months.
"Since we are not allowed to go to the ground, I am doing workouts in the room. We have a 30-40-metre-long lawn, and I am utilising it for exercise.
“[I have] started doing yoga and mind exercises. Eating habits have also changed. I have stopped eating meat and am consuming more fruits and water," she explained.