Dutee Chand to be 1st Indian in 36 years at 100m Olympics dash
NEW DELHI: Indian sprinter Dutee Chand defied all odds to qualify for the women’s 100 metres event at the Rio Olympics on Saturday.
Chand broke her own national record with a timing of 11.30 seconds in the heats at the 26th G Kosanov Memorial Meet in Almaty, Kazakhstan, to win the berth. The qualification mark for Rio was 11.32 seconds. In the final, Dutee clocked 11.24 seconds to win silver, and shaved off 0.06 seconds from the national record she had set earlier in the day. Viktoriya Zyabkina of Kazakhstan bagged the gold with 11.15 seconds while Jasim Iman Essa of Bahrain finished with a time of 11.26 seconds.
The achievement comes a year after the Indian sprinter successfully challenged the International Association of Athletics Federations’ policy of barring women athletes with high androgen levels. A landmark judgement by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in July 2015 had cleared the road for her to compete again.
Chand will be the first Indian woman sprinter in 36 years to make the cut in 100 metres. PT Usha, who competed at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, was the last to represent India in this event.
“I am really happy at t he moment,” she said in a statement. “It has been a tough year for me, and I am so happy that my coach ... and my hard work have paid off.”
“I would like to thank all the people in India who were praying for me to qualify. Your wishes have paid off,” she added.
Athletics Federation of India president Adille J Sumariwalla lauded Chand’s achievement.
“Her qualifying for Rio is an outstanding feat. Dutee had a very tough year and a half, and I am glad she came out of it with this performance,” he told HT.
Chand had come close to winning a berth when she broke a 15-year-old record to bag the gold at the Federation Cup in April this year. Though she clocked 11.33 seconds, five better than the mark set by Rachita Mistry in 2000, she failed to meet qualification standards by .01 second.
At the Indian Grand Prix in Patiala, Chand clocked 11.37 seconds to win the gold. A third gold came her way when she clocked 11.50 seconds at the Taiwan Open Athletics Championships.
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