Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Bhubaneswar: Ace sprinter Dutee Chand turns 25 today. Born in the dawn of the 21st century, the young track icon has set several impressive milestones with her sheer grit, will and talent. Dutee is an inspiration to look up to. The current champion in the women’s 100 metres sprint has continued to inspire people not only in the field of sports, but also as a courageous, powerful and strong-willed personality.

Currently stuck in Bhubaneswar due to the Covid-19 induced guidelines, the Olympian celebrated her birthday amidst close friends and mentors in a low key event.

“Unlike the previous years, my birthday celebration was a low key affair this year. However, I have been bolstered by the love and good wishes showered on me by my friends, well-wishers and fans,” Dutee told exclusively to odishatv.in.

Despite many distractions and impediments in practice on account of the pandemic situation, the ace sprinter is totally focused to do well in the upcoming competitions.

“The sports sector is gradually opening up post Covid-19. I have started my preparations in full swing for the upcoming grand events like Indian Grand Prix and Federation Cup (at Patiala). I am committed to win medals in these prestigious tournaments. It will set the momentum for my preparation for Tokyo Olympics 2021,” said a determined Dutee.

On the occasion of her birthday, let’s take a tour of the incredible journey of the sprinting sensation.

[caption id="attachment_514981" align="aligncenter" width="750"]Dutee At Kalinga Stadium Sweet Home: Dutee Chand at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar[/caption]

No golden spoon on her mouth

Born into a below poverty line family of weavers in Odisha, she started running when she was just four. Her older sister Saraswati Chand who competed in running at State level was her inspiration. However, Dutee still had to struggle during her training in the initial days as she used to train barefoot.

Winning streak

Showing promise: Dutee became a national champion in the U-18 category in 2012. She clocked 11.2 seconds in the 100 metres event. Since then, she has bagged several medals at various national and international platforms.

National Champion: In 2013, she became the national champion in 100 metres and 200 metres when she won the events clocking 11.73 s in the final in 100 metres and a career-best 23.73s in 200 metres at the National Senior Athletics Championships in Ranchi.

Asian glory: She won the bronze medal in the women’s 200 metres event at the Asian Athletics Championships 2013 in Pune. She clocked 23.811s to bag the third position in the grand event.

In the same year, she also became the first Indian to reach the finals of global 100 metres athletics at the 2013 World Youth Championships.

[caption id="attachment_514982" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Prized Possessions: Dutee with her medals & coach Nagpuri Ramesh[/caption]

Olympics journey: She is the third Indian woman to ever qualify for the women’s 100 metres event at the Summer Olympic Games 2016. However, her 11.69s in the preliminary round did not qualify her for the next round.

Double delight: In 2017, at the Asian Athletics Championships she clinched two bronze medals, one in the women’s 100 metres and another in the Women’s 4 × 100 m relay with Srabani Nanda, Merlin K Joseph and Himashree Roy in Bhubaneswar.

Silvery girl: In 2018, Chand clinched silver in the women’s 100m event at the Jakarta Asian Games. She also bagged her second silver medal at the competition in the women’s 200 metres final.

Varsity glory: In 2019, she became the first Indian sprinter to win the yellow metal at the Universiade, clocking 11.32 seconds in the 100m race.

Hyperandrogenism controversy

Dutee was unfortunately dropped from the 2014 Commonwealth Games contingent at the last minute after the Athletic Federation of India (AFI) stated that hyperandrogenism made her ineligible to compete as a female athlete. Following Commonwealth Games she was also dropped from the Indian contingent for the 2014 Asian Games. The decision was made in compliance with International Olympic Committee (IOC) regulations on ‘female hyperandrogenism’ designed to address a perceived advantage for female athletes with high androgen levels. In 2015 she appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The ruling found that there was a lack of evidence provided that testosterone increased female athletic. This effectively removed the suspension of Chand from competition, clearing her to race again.

[caption id="attachment_514983" align="aligncenter" width="750"]Dutee On Track Moment of Glory: Dutee Chand sets track on fire[/caption]

Coming out of closet

Dutee has empowered LGBTQIA+ community by embracing her sexuality in spite of facing threat of expulsion from her family. She is the first-ever Indian sportsperson to openly admit of being in a same-sex relationship. Although her parents did not object to her relationship outright, her eldest sister was totally against her relationship.