Rivalry between two Odisha sprinters — Sarbani Nanda and Dutee Chand is expected to gain more credence now and that could see them achieve the Rio Olympic Games qualification mark of 23:20 seconds in the women’s 200m. Both Chand and Nanda have clocked below 24secs in the past and this has raised hopes.
The day after a landmark judgement of Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) allowed Chand to compete in international events after overruling a hyperandrogenism case against her, Chand has her eyes firmly focused on the upcoming national meet in September.
Last year, Chand was at the peak of her performance. She clocked 23:57secs in 200m during the junior Asian meet in Chinese Taipei. However, in July 2014, when she was looking ahead to the world junior championships in Eugene, the athletics world governing body IAAF barred her from all events, national and international. She missed the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the following Incheon Asian Games because of the ban.
Chand had recently said, had she participated in Incheon, she might have won at least one medal. "There was good chance in 200m," she had said.
Things began to look up in December after she was allowed to take part in domestic meets and at the Federation Cup in Mangalore, all eyes were on Chand and Nanda. The former had to settle for silver in the 100m. Nanda’s winning time was 11:59 secs while Chand had to be contended with 11:86secs. Then lack of practice was the reason Dutee gave for not living up to her top billing.
A month after the domestic meet, Nanda further showed her prowess on the track by setting a personal best in 200m clocking 23:54secs in the Asian Championships. She posted 11.48secs in the 100m.
On Tuesday, both Dutee and her coach N Ramesh were elated by the CAS judgment, and hoped to move faster on the track. Things are going in the right direction, said Chand’s coach, but he didn’t say what time her trainee would clock.
However, N Ramesh acknowledged Nanda is a strong competitor. He added: "It’s good for us. We know someone is there to push us hard at the domestic level."