Would give my all to clock 11.10 seconds in women's 100m at Tokyo Olympics — Dutee Chand
The two time Asian Games silver medallist Dutee Chand will be competing in two events in Tokyo 100m and 200m
India's ace sprinter Dutee Chand is the proud to be the first Indian athlete to make it to the Olympics for the second time in a row in the 100m. The two time Asian Games silver medallist will be competing in two events in Tokyo 100m and 200m. This will be the first time she will be competing in 200m event.
''I am very happy and proud. Not every athlete gets the opportunity to compete in the Olympics twice. In Rio 2016 I participated in only one event in 100m and now in Tokyo I will be participating in two events 100m and 200m.'' Dutee Chand said in a conversation with The Bridge.
Qualifying for Tokyo Olympics became tougher with time because of the global Covid-19 pandemic which led to travel restrictions. But the 25 year old Odisha athlete never lost hope and kept on training hard and finally qualified for Tokyo Olympics and in process bettering her own National Record of 11.24 to 11.17 seconds.
Dutee failed in her last attempt to secure a direct Olympic qualification spot after finishing a disappointing fourth in the 100m final at the 60th National Inter-State Senior Athletics Championships.
Later on Dutee scripted a new national record in the women's 100m with a time of 11.17 seconds in the Indian Grand Prix 4 in Patiala missing the Olympic qualification time by just 0.02 seconds. With only 22 spots available in 100m and 15 spots in 200m as per the World Rankings route. Dutee's overall World ranking of 44 in 100m and World ranking of 51 in 200m were enough for her to qualify for Tokyo Olympics starting July 23.
"In 2019 after competing in the open championship I was very happy with my timing of 11.32 seconds. For Tokyo Olympics preparation I had planned my tour to Germany for competition and training. But due to Covid-19 pandemic the Olympics got postponed. There was neither a competition in India nor outside the country. The foreign countries were also not allowing players from outside to compete. In India there were grand prix and federations cup but I couldn't qualify because of injury.
I was very much worried about how I would qualify if there was no competition. The one which was in Poland also got cancelled. So, there were not many competitions left for the Senior Inter-state and grand prix. My training in Patiala was going on nicely. Therefore, I thought I would give it my all in the remaining competition because my ranking was very well maintained. My timing was also good and in the end I maintained a timing of 11.17 seconds." said the ace Indian sprinter.
The experience of Rio Olympics 2016 is going to hold Dutee Chand in good stead as she is a much seasoned athlete now by competing in many international competitive tournaments. With three weeks left for Olympics the 25-year old Odisha athlete is looking to improve her timing for the prestigious quadrennial event.
"Before 2015 I did not play too many international competitions and that is why I did not have enough experience. When I reached Rio I was very nervous and I had no idea about the timing. But if you see now, since 2016 I have played a lot of international competitions like Asian Championship, Asian Games, World University Games, World Championships, South Asian Games and the athletes who will come to Tokyo I have also competed with them. So, I will not be too nervous this time around. I will try to do better than Rio this time. My target is 11.10 seconds and if I achieve then I will be able to reach the semi-finals and if I reach the semi-finals then I can also try to make it to the final." said the two times Asian Games medallist.
The ace Indian sprinter is competing in two different events but her main focus is in 100m race as her timing has shown a consistent improvement in that competition while in 200m she has not got too much of an exposure.
"My main target is going to be 100m because I have improved my performance a lot in 100m competitions. In 200m, I could not get too much of an opportunity but I will give my best in Tokyo because the weather and track over there will suit me a lot and my training is also going on very well." according to Dutee Chand.
Despite toiling hard day in and day out for Tokyo Olympics Dutee Chand has set realistic goals for herself and she is taking it step by step realizing that the competition in Tokyo is going to be the toughest for her.
"The 30 athletes who have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics have clocked 10.8, 10.9 seconds whereas my body can run up to 11.05 to 11.10 seconds as per my coach. But if you run well then you can come under 11.10 seconds and this performance can help me reach the semi-finals. I am not hopeful of a medal because my timing is not the best but still if everyone's wishes are there then anything can happen." said Dutee Chand.
Dutee Chand has thanked Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Mr. Kiren Rijiju, Athletics Federation of India, Odisha government and Pullela Gopichand for their support especially during the pandemic and she specially mentioned about her SAI-appointed coach Mr. N Ramesh.
"I would like to thank Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju sir, Athletics Federation of India, government of Odisha, Pullela Gopichand sir for supporting me. Kiren Rijiju sir provided me all the facilities for training, included my name in TOPS and offered me finance for training. State government also financed me and gave me special permission to go training during Covid restrictions.'' told Dutee Chand.
There are many people behind the success story of ace Indian athlete Dutee Chand but the one who was with her during her training and practice sessions was her coach Mr. N Ramesh. The SAI appointed coach was with her despite his family facing the worst times during the pandemic.
"It was personally very challenging for me as because of Corona I lost my mother-in-law in my native place. My wife fractured her leg and she was in bed for one month. But I can't travel and meet her and if I go then I have to be in quarantine and I can't even miss one session. So, it was really very tough. Dutee Chand was also suffering small injuries and nigles during training so it was extremely tough." said Dutee Chand's coach N Ramesh.
His commitment and sacrifices paid rich dividends for Dutee Chand and now he has shifted his focus from qualifying in the Olympics to preparing for Tokyo Olympics.
"If things are not under your control then you can't do anything, only training is under your control. We took everything session by session. Morning session if you have done well then be happy, Evening session you have done well then be happy that's more than enough. If she achieves a timing of 11.05 seconds then she is likely going to reach the semi-final and that is also a big achievement. Let us think step by step. In 100m she has once again broken her national record of 11.17 seconds comfortably and with three more weeks left for Olympics if she works hard then the timing can improve." said Mr. N Ramesh.
Dutee Chand's consistent improvement has raised the expectations of the entire nation and with the two time Asian Games silver medallist leaving no stone unturned for Tokyo Olympics all eyes will be on her when she enters the track.