Pullela Gopichand, the man behind the success of London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal and Rio Olympic Games silver medallist PV Sindhu, has now extended support to national women’s 100m champion Dutee Chand.
Using his resources, Gopichand has funded Dutee’s exposure trip to Birmingham, England, where the Odisha sprinter participated in an international indoor athletics meet on February 18.
Dutee’s coach N Ramesh said he was overwhelmed by Gopichand’s support. “Since indoor events aren’t popular in India, getting financial assistance from the government is challenging. It was a good opportunity for Dutee to compete with top global athletes,” he said.
Dutee clocked 7.39 seconds in 60 metres to finish sixth in her heats, but Ramesh feels the performance will help her prepare for the 2018 World Athletics Championships at the same venue in March.
“Since Dutee has shown marked improvement in 60m, the exposure trip will help her mentally for the 2018 season.”
Ramesh believes if more people like Gopichand show initiative, sports will get a boost in the country.
Three years ago, Dutee had shifted her training base to Hyderabad from Patiala, as she felt top athletes were reluctant to train with her after she was banned for hyperandrogenism ( a medical condition where excessive levels of androgens ---male hormones are present in the body). She later got relief from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Now, Sindhu often trains with her. “The congenial atmosphere has given Dutee the desire to strive harder,” said Ramesh.