Notice the tingling, almost ticklish feeling that existed in the mind of the world’s fastest sprint runner Hima Das before she took to the track. It was only “Bhaag, Hima, bhaag, aur main sirf bhaagi.” Her target was winning the final race.
Being a farmer’s daughter from Dhing village in Nagaon district of Assam, she clocked 51.46 seconds in her 400-metre sprint. And that’s how she won the gold medal at the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championships in Tempere, Finland.
Das remained ahead of Romania’s Andrea Miklos and USA’s Taylor Manson in the 400-metre sprint track event. The young girl proved her mettle and gave us a superb performance as the first Indian woman to do what she did.
But the first criticism of her spoken English came from none than Athletic Federation of India. On their official Twitter handle, they tweeted: “#HimaDas speaking to media after her SF win at #iaaftampere2018 @iaaforg Not so fluent in English but she gave her best there too. So proud of u #HimaDas Keep rocking & yeah,try ur best in final!”
The rest of the criticism surfaced on social media, leaving behind her sporting abilities. Why was her language ability brought under scrutiny despite the record run in the international event?
Although the Federation tendered an apology (in Hindi, no less!), the derisive comment was not deleted, initially. The reason given for this was that the Federation’s tweet did not intend to humiliate the star athlete at all. But the fact is that it showed a lack of respect to the fastest sprint runner and later issued an apology for sheer inexactness. What is wrong if a woman who earned a credit for the country had stumbled while speaking English?