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Who is Dhanalakshmi? The sprinter who beat both Hima Das and Dutee Chand

Tamil Nadu girl Dhanalakshmi silently breezed past Hima Das and Dutee Chand, the two most popular Indian sprinters of our time, marking her arrival in Indian athletics.

Dhanalakshmi (Source: The Hindu)

Dhanalakshmi (Source: The Hindu)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 19 March 2021 1:15 PM GMT

While the whole nation is caught in the fervour of Hima Das and Dutee Chand, a Tamil Nadu girl silently breezed past the two most popular Indian sprinters of our time, marking her arrival in Indian athletics. The 22-year-old whom the world didn't know till yesterday, is now being hailed as one of the promising sprinters of India and she has earned this position as her own bragging rights. She is Dhanalakshmi, the girl who beat Hima Das and Dutee Chand besides breaking the record held by P.T. Usha for 23 years - which was set even before her birth.

Who is Dhanalakshmi?

Dhanalakshmi's mettle was witnessed by the Indian athletics fraternity when she stepped into the race track on Tuesday. The Tamil Nadu sprinter ran in the 24th Federation Cup National Athletics Championship in Patiala, clinching gold in the much-anticipated 100m event by clocking 11.39 seconds. Who would have thought she would beat the best in the business. Her effort stood out in the final against the Asian Games silver medallist Dutee, who came in second with 11.58. Hima Das was disqualified for a false start.

In the heats, Dhanalakshmi had clocked 11.38 seconds to cover the same distance, the timing was the fastest in the women's 100m in a competition in India by an athlete other than national record holder Dutee Chand.

This was just the start, Dhanalakshmi did something stupendous again on Thursday when she took part in 200m event of the 24th Federation Cup. In the heats, Dhanalakshmi added another feather in her cap by rewriting New Meet Record (NMR) clocking 23.26 Sec. The previous Meet Record was set by PT Usha - 23.30 in 1998. This time again, she comfortably beats Hima Das, who clocked 24.39 secs to finish second. Archana won the other heat in 24.07 All eyes will be upon Dhana Lakshmi when she steps in for the final tomorrow. The cutoff for qualifying in the Olympics in 200m is 22.80 secs.

Where is Dhanalakshmi from?

Dhanalakshmi hails from the village of Gundur near Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu.

How Dhanalakshmi started her journey?

Dhanalakshmi constantly had to battle the shackles of poverty to reach this stage. After losing her father at an early age, her family was dependent on her mother who worked as a domestic help to feed and educate Dhanalakshmi and her two sisters. Sports was just a vehicle for her to channelize her struggles. She pursued her studies at Alava's College in Mangalore and whatever she got as a stipend, she used to send to her family.

In her college, she started playing Kho Kho, but her coach M Manikanda Arumugam, a former Tamil Nadu sprinter, noticed she wasn't that good in the sport and hence, he suggested her to try athletics. Manikandan, who still was competing as a sprinter took Dhanalakshmi under his wings and helped her with food, nutrition, and coaching. Within a year, results could be seen when she won a gold medal in the 200m at the Inter Universities championships in Mangalore.

How Dhanalakshmi progressed?

The lockdown imposed due to COVID-19 affected her training regime. Besides, her sister also passed away due to sudden illness. Her coach managed to secure some financial help and with help of a sponsor, Dhanalakshmi managed to take part in the Federation Cup. Dhanalakshmi's pet event is 200m and if things work out well, we might be able to see her qualifying in the Olympics as part of the 4x100m quartet. For now, she just hopes to land a government job so that she can earn and provide monetary support to her family.

Inputs from ESPN

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