Dutee Chand has expressed confidence of qualifying for the upcoming Olympics stating that she is positive her labour will bear sweet fruits for her. She went on to discuss her experience having come out as an openly gay athlete and also about her success in the recent World University Games.
India’s ace sprinter Dutee Chand is probably the fastest women the country has ever seen till date. The 23-year-old holds the national 100 metre record with a time of 11.24 seconds and has won two gold medals in the Asian Junior Championships in the past. She also has four bronze medals in the senior championships and a couple of silver medals in last year’s Asian Games.
However, Chand has failed to replicate her achievements so far on the global stage. She is yet to qualify for next year’s sporting extravaganza in Tokyo, only managing to clock a best time of 11.26 seconds in the season so far. The qualifying mark for 11 metres has been set at 11.15 seconds but the girl from Odisha is confident of touching the mark.
"I believe that hard work always pays off and I am working diligently to win more laurels for my country in the upcoming competitions. My training schedule is pretty tough at the moment ... but I have seen that my timing has improved a lot compared to before. I am working really hard and am sure it will pay off. I feel I will qualify for the Olympics this year," Chand told Reuters in an interview, reported TOI.
While her achievements on the track are indeed praiseworthy, equally impressive has been her fight against the social wrongs. Having been diagnosed with hyperandrogenism in 2014, a condition in which the body has higher testosterone levels than usual, she was not allowed to compete for a year in any event. Chand successfully appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2015, managing to get the contentious International Association of Athletics Federations rules scrapped.
This paved the way for her to become only the third ever Indian women to take part in the 100 metres race in the 2016 Olympics and the first in 36 years, even though she faltered at the heats in Rio. She recently made public her relationship with a woman from Odisha, becoming India’s first openly gay athlete.
"I don't feel there has been any pressure on me since I have discussed my personal life openly. In fact, I have received a lot of support and encouragement for speaking up about my choices. I felt pressured when I was in hiding. Not anymore. I am sure my achievements have made things easier for me but I also feel that people in our country have a greater acceptance level now and appreciate honesty over false identities," she stated.
Earlier this year, she again made history by becoming the first Indian to win a gold at the Universiade, clocking 11.32 seconds in the 100 metre race in Napoli.
"The World University Games Gold medal was a great confidence booster for me. It highlighted my talents, my performance and dedication. I received a lot of appreciation and support after this win and I look forward to winning more competitions such as these in the future and making my country proud. Gold medal always feels great. In fact, any appreciation or acknowledgement is a great morale booster. The more medals I win, the more my ambitions and confidence levels increase," Chand signed off.
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