The resilience and heroism of Dutee Chand
With her latest triumph, the athlete has once again displayed her fighting spiritUpdated: Jul 11, 2019 20:24 IST
Dutee Chand is not one to be pulled down. Even an attempt at it makes her come back stronger. This is no platitude; Chand lives her truth. The 23-year-old woman from Odisha doesn’t back down, and simply does not consider the odds.
The latest example of this came in Napoli where Chand ran 100m in 11.32 seconds, becoming the first Indian woman athlete to win a gold medal at the World Universiade. It was also the first time an Indian won a global 100m sprint event.
Dutee’s pace was a bit slower than her national record of 11.26 seconds but the forces she was battling were bigger than her on-track competition. It was her first major competition since she came out about being in a same-sex relationship and drawing the public ire of her family.
She took it in her stride. “As for the society, it will criticise any sort of change...anything that they haven’t seen or aren’t used to. I can’t spend my life thinking about others,” she said.
In 2014, she was dropped from the Commonwealth Games squad with the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) saying she could not compete as a female athlete, because of a hyperandrogenism rule (a testosterone limit set by the world athletics body for women athletes). Chand challenged the ruling, and reversed it, setting a milestone in a fight for gender equality in sports.
Her next aim is to qualify for the World Championships in Doha, starting September 26. For that she has to achieve the qualifying mark of 11.24 seconds, a timing lower than her personal best. To do that, Chand will have to compete at international events. The trip to Napoli was sponsored by her university and not the government, which does not consider her performances as good enough for elite-level funding. Yer another challenge for the star. There’s a reason she tweeted “Pull me down, I will come back stronger!” after her latest triumph.