Her personal best is not yet enough to make the cut for the Tokyo Games but India's top sprinter Dutee Chand says her selection for the Arjuna award has come at the right time as it would motivate her to breach the "difficult" Olympic qualification mark.
The 24-year-old Dutee, silver medallist in both 100m and 200m in the 2018 Asian Games, was on Friday selected for the honour along with 26 others. She has a personal best of 11.22 seconds which she recorded last year. Dutee featured in the Rio Olympics by breaching the qualifying standard of 11.32 seconds but this time the mark is 11.15 seconds.
"The Award has come at the right time. Any recognition by the government for your performance and achievements always boosts the confidence of an athlete," Dutee told PTI from Bhubaneswar. "This should give me more strength and confidence in my efforts to do well in the Olympics. I hope to qualify for my second Olympics in Tokyo next year and do my best there," she added. "It will be tough (to breach 11.15 secs) but I am confident to breach it. This award will give me the boost in my efforts."
Dutee, also the reigning World University Games 100m champion, said she does not mind missing out on receiving the award from President Ram Nath Kovind as the ceremony will be held online on August 29 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "An award or an honour from the government is always welcomed any time. Of course, it would be have been a great occasion to receive the award from the president in a (physical) ceremony. But it is all right, I am happy that I have been chosen for the award," she said.
"My achievements through hard work have been recognised by the government, that is the more important thing." Dutee is keenly waiting to start the full-intensity training which she could not undertake currently due to coronavirus-forced restrictions. "I don't have a physio, no masseur currently, they cannot be here due to pandemic. My coach (N Ramesh) can only tell through whatsapp video what I have to do. But that is not enough," said Dutee who is currently training at the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology.
"I don't think any athlete can do intensive training till the pandemic is there and unless the restrictions are removed. I really want to start the full-fledged training. I don't know when will it happen."