Every eyeball was fixed on her speeding feet. Deafening motivations soon changed to standing ovation as she bagged a silver medal in a 100m race at the 81st All India Railway Athletics Meet organised here at SAI centre, Bhopal. Yet, the support was not for Dutee’s performance, but for her excellent comeback on track after a year.
Dutee Chand, 19, a sprinter from Odisha, recently got a clearance from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to compete both in national and international sports meet. She earned accolades by finishing the 100m run in 11.74 seconds in her first domestic athletic meet after the ban. She also bagged a bronze medal in a 4x100m relay.
Chand was barred from running on the track due to high level of testosterone, the male sex harmone, in her body. She was suggested to undergo medical treatment but fought through the test and secured the clearance.
“I do have an option to undergo treatment but I refused to do so because it was not a matter of my sports career but a matter of pride of a woman. Now, no girl will face such trauma in future,” said Dutee after winning a medal.
Talking to HT, the sprinter said, “To choose sport as a career is not easy task for a girl. I faced a lot. Instead of commenting on my performance, my coach used to scold me for my poor background … that I chose sports for getting free food. In the hostel, seniors used to harass us. After facing all these things, I performed well in the athletics but was unnecessarily targeted due to hormonal problem. Without support of central and state governments, I wouldn’t be able to fight against it because Athletics Federation of India (AFI) had almost sidelined me. I am happy that I came back with equal respect and honour in the game.”
At the age of 18, Dutee had qualified for the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games and was confident about bagging a medal in Rio Olympics but a year ban has made her probability of qualifying in the competition very thin.
“I have only eight months to qualify for Rio Olympics 2016. Now, I need foreign exposure. Otherwise, it will be hard for me to qualify as the ban has hampered my performance. But I will try to do my best in the next eight months to book berth in the Olympics,” she said.
Virendra Singh Poonia, the coach and husband of discus thrower Krishna Poonia, who was also watching Dutee’s performance, said, “I salute the courage and determination of Dutee. She is an extremely talented sprinter and we are sure that she will win a medal in the Olympics because she has proved her mettle at a very young age.”