The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on Friday faced backlash on Twitter for allegedly mocking Hima Das’ English skills on their official Twitter account.
After Hima won her semi-final in the women’s 400 metre event at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland, the AFI posted a video with a caption which pointed out to Hima’s limited English speaking ability.
“#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 AFI had posted after the semi-final on Wednesday.
#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! @ioaindia @IndianOlympians @TejaswinShankar @PTI_News @StarSportsIndia @hotstartweets pic.twitter.com/N3PdEamJen
— Athletics Federation of India (@afiindia) July 12, 2018
The post caused an uproar which prompted the federation to issue a clarification on Friday, claiming that they did not mean to mock Hima’s English.
She has landed in Tampere for displaying her talent in track and not in English_ Its shame on you @afiindia for what you said_
— Rohith Ram (@Rohithp6) July 12, 2018
Why do you even need to mention not so fluent in English but, why does an athlete even need to know English.
— Manuarora6699 (@Manuarora66991) July 12, 2018
She has not been featured by @iaaforg for her English speaking skills,we have lot of good English speakers in India but very few who can run like her #LegendintheMaking
— J D’Souza (@johnd290) July 12, 2018
Who cares about her English?!!! Its just a language meant for easing communication. She speaks with with her strides. And her speech is pure poetry. Period.
— Monalisa Goswami (@monalisagoswami) July 12, 2018
Not so fluent in English? What has English got to do with her performance as an athlete?
We’re not a English speaking country. Celebrate her achievement. Do not point at her language skills. Shame on you @afiindia
— Srujana Deva (@SrujanaDeva) July 13, 2018
Following the uproar, the AFI issued an apology on their twitter account. They tweeted:
“(We ask) Forgiveness from all the Indians, you have been hurt by one of our TWEET! The real purpose was to show that our runner is not afraid of any difficulty, inside or out of the ground! Regardless of the small village coming from, the speaker exclaimed abroad! Once again sorry for those who are angry, Jai Hind,” the AFI wrote on Twitter.
The AFI however, refused to delete the video, asserting that it does not intend to humiliate the star athlete.
“The Video is before final, video is great, so we will not DELETE it! see all! Once again sorry for those who are angry, thank you all for giving good luck to Hima! Jai Hind,” the AFI tweeted.
Later, Hima created history by becoming the first Indian athlete to clinch the gold medal in the 400m final at the World U20 Championships.
Das clocked 51.46 seconds to clinch India’s first medal in track.