Hima's feat drew admiration from the likes of Indian PM Narendra Modi, Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and several others Image: Twitter
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on Friday had a foot-in-the-mouth moment when trying to congratulate sprinter Hima Das for her impeccable feat. The official AFI handle, while possibly trying to congratulate India's golden girl, decided to 'unduly' focus on the 18-year-old's "not so fluent English" during her interview after her blazing run at the World Under-20 Championships in Finland, attracting the ire of fans, which forced the governing body to issue an apology in chaste Hindi.
Hima, the daughter of a rice farmer from a village in Assam's Nagaon district, scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to win a gold at the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championships, claiming the top spot in the women's 400m final race in Tampere, Finland.
"#HimaDas speking 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!", AFI wrote in its post.
Fans took to the microblogging site to express their displeasure against AFI for using words that could be construed as insensitive.
Miffed, fans ridiculed the tweet and said Das was in Finland to showcase her talent in athletics and not her expertise in English.
The severe backlash prompted AFI to issue a clarification.
"We apologise to the country if our tweet hurt sentiments. We merely wanted to show that Hima is fearless whether on the track or outside. Despite being from a small village, she spoke freely with the foreign media. We apologise again to those who were offended," translated a tweet, which was posted in Hindi by AFI.
While the incident ended up leaving a bad taste in the mouth, AFI's apology did calm down enraged fans and some even applauded the gesture to own up to the mistake.
The 18-year-old Das, a pre-tournament favourite, clocked 51.46s to win the gold. She now joins star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who won a gold in Poland in the last edition in 2016 in a world record effort.
(With inputs from PTI)