GUWAHATI, Sept 7 - �I am proud to be an Assamese,� said Hima Das in her speech after she was accorded an unprecedented felicitation by the State government at the Srimanta Sankaradeva International Auditorium here today. It was a historic moment as it was for the first time that a sportsperson of the State has been feted with State honour in the presence of a capacity crowd.
�When Prime Minister Narendra Modi honoured me in New Delhi two days back, he became quite emotional and praised me a lot. Then I said, �after the next Asian Games another 10 medal-winning athletes from Assam will be here with you�,� she had said.
Thanking the people of Assam for the blessings, the new Indian track sensation said, �My parents always used to warn me against being proud. I, too, would like the youngsters to be humble and work hard which will surely bring success.�
Hima added, after winning medals in the international circuit she now has greater responsibilities. �I am committed to work as hard as possible and hopefully will do better. My aim is to run after timing, not after medal,� she said.
Thanking the State government for providing her all possible help to her, Das urged all ethnic groups of Assam to produce at least one sportsperson of national standard. On the occasion she also expressed gratitude to her coaches and mentors and urged the government to encourage them.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said Hima is an inspiration for the young generation and advised the youngsters to follow her closely. He also offered her a senior post in the Sports Department.
The Sports Department has, meanwhile, offered Hima to be the brand ambassador of the department, but the star athlete is, however, yet to accept the offer.
As promised earlier, the Chief Minister presented her a cheque of Rs 1.6 crore. Hima�s achievement, an inspiration for people across the country, will be able to create an atmosphere for sports in the State, he said. The government will take care of her, he said, and asked her to go ahead and perform without any pressure. �You have given much for the sport; now it is our responsibility to support you in every step,�
He also vowed to prepare 500 playfields across the State.
Hima need not feel any pressure in her future endeavours, Finance Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma said. �People of Assam are grateful to you for whatever you have done so far,� he said.
Athletic Federation of India president Adil Sumariwala urged the Chief Minister to set up a sprint academy in Assam as here is a lot of potentials.
Indian Olympic association secretary general Rajiv Mehta thanked the State government for felicitating Hima in a befitting manner and expressed his hopes that Hima will do much better in the coming days.
Almost all the ministers of the State Cabinet, Arjun Award winner Bhogeswar Barua, former and present sportspersons, Union minister Rajen Gohain were present on the occasion along with a host of senior officers.