Indian athletics

Hima Das wins gold in U-20 women’s 400 metres, becomes India’s first world track medallist

Das became the first Indian to win a track medal at any global meet and the second gold medallist at the U-20 Worlds after Neeraj Chopra.

Hima Das stormed to the 400 metres title at the ongoing Under-20 IAAF World Championships being held at the Ratina Stadium in Tampere, Finland on Thursday.

Das clocked a 51.46 seconds in the final, a shade below her seasonal and personal best of 51.13 seconds. The 18-year-old Assamese sprinter started conservatively as her rivals opted for the early burst in the final.

Going into the final stretch, Hima produced a trademark surge to get the better of Andrea Miklos of Romania in second place, who finished with a time of 52.07 seconds. Taylor Madson of the United States came third with a time of 52.28 seconds.

The sprinter from Assam’s Dhing village was the favourite going into the final, as she qualified first in the semi-finals in 52.10 seconds. Hima had first shown glimpses of her ability at the Federation Cup in March, where she ran 51.97 seconds to seal a place at the Commonwealth Games.

At Gold Coast, she qualified for the final and finished fifth with a personal best of 51.32 seconds.

With this gold, Hima became only the fourth Indian ever to win a medal at the Under-20 World Championships and only the second to win a gold after Neeraj Chopra won the Javelin Throw at Bydgoszcz in 2016.

Watch the race here:

Speaking to IAAF after the win, Das said, “I’m very proud to hold the Indian flag on my shoulders, I’d like to thank India and my team leader and my coach. My biggest strength is the last 100m. Next for me will be the Asian Games but my big dream is to compete in the Olympics one day.”

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

People who fall through the gaps in road safety campaigns

Helmet and road safety campaigns might have been neglecting a sizeable chunk of the public at risk.

City police, across the country, have been running a long-drawn campaign on helmet safety. In a recent initiative by the Bengaluru Police, a cop dressed-up as ‘Lord Ganesha’ offered helmets and roses to two-wheeler riders. Earlier this year, a 12ft high and 9ft wide helmet was installed in Kota as a memorial to the victims of road accidents. As for the social media leg of the campaign, the Mumbai Police made a pop-culture reference to drive the message of road safety through their Twitter handle.

But, just for the sake of conversation, how much safety do helmets provide anyway?

Lack of physical protections put two-wheeler riders at high risk on the road. According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes. Nearly half of those dying on the world’s roads are ‘vulnerable road users’ – pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. According to the Indian transport ministry, about 28 two-wheeler riders died daily on Indian roads in 2016 for not wearing helmets.

The WHO states that wearing a motorcycle helmet correctly can reduce the risk of death by almost 40% and the risk of severe injury by over 70%. The components of a helmet are designed to reduce impact of a force collision to the head. A rigid outer shell distributes the impact over a large surface area, while the soft lining absorbs the impact.

However, getting two-wheeler riders to wear protective headgear has always been an uphill battle, one that has intensified through the years owing to the lives lost due on the road. Communication tactics are generating awareness about the consequences of riding without a helmet and changing behaviour that the law couldn’t on its own. But amidst all the tag-lines, slogans and get-ups that reach out to the rider, the safety of the one on the passenger seat is being ignored.

Pillion rider safety has always been second in priority. While several state governments are making helmets for pillion riders mandatory, the lack of awareness about its importance runs deep. In Mumbai itself, only 1% of the 20 lakh pillion riders wear helmets. There seems to be this perception that while two-wheeler riders are safer wearing a helmet, their passengers don’t necessarily need one. Statistics prove otherwise. For instance, in Hyderabad, the Cyberabad traffic police reported that 1 of every 3 two-wheeler deaths was that of a pillion rider. DGP Chander, Goa, stressed that 71% of fatalities in road accidents in 2017 were of two-wheeler rider and pillion riders of which 66% deaths were due to head injury.

Despite the alarming statistics, pillion riders, who are as vulnerable as front riders to head-injuries, have never been the focus of helmet awareness and safety drives. To fill-up that communication gap, Reliance General Insurance has engineered a campaign, titled #FaceThePace, that focusses solely on pillion rider safety. The campaign film tells a relatable story of a father taking his son for cricket practice on a motorbike. It then uses cricket to bring our attention to a simple flaw in the way we think about pillion rider safety – using a helmet to play a sport makes sense, but somehow, protecting your head while riding on a two-wheeler isn’t considered.

This road safety initiative by Reliance General Insurance has taken the lead in addressing the helmet issue as a whole — pillion or front, helmets are crucial for two-wheeler riders. The film ensures that we realise how selective our worry about head injury is by comparing the statistics of children deaths due to road accidents to fatal accidents on a cricket ground. Message delivered. Watch the video to see how the story pans out.

Play

To know more about Reliance general insurance policies, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Reliance General Insurance and not by the Scroll editorial team.