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In what is a recent development, India's seasoned sprinter Dutee Chand has submitted a budget of approximately Rs 1 crore to Odisha government. With the World Championships later this year and the Summer Olympics next year in Tokyo, she wants to take part in European circuit meets and train in Europe. Both Dutee and her coach Ramesh Nagapuram are in Patiala to attend the national preparatory camp for the Asian Track & Field meet to be held in Doha from 21st to 24th April. Talking to The Bridge from Patiala over the phone, Dutee stressing on the opportunity to participate in European circuit meets, said, “I must take part in tough competitions to reduce my timing in 100 and 200 meters. Otherwise, it will be difficult to qualify for both the World Championship and Olympics.”
Dutee has not been included in the TOP (Target Olympics Podium) scheme initiated by the current Union Sports Ministry. Dutee, being the country’s best female sprinter to have broken 16-year jinx with two silver medals in Djakarta Asian Games, was initially surprised and upset. “Now I am not much bothered. Initially, I was surprised and upset about not being included in the TOP scheme. One of the SAI (Sports Authority of India) executives assured me saying the quota of including the sportspersons under the scheme is full. I would be included in the next phase when the project will be reopened for the Tokyo Olympics,” she says. The sprinter adds, “If I do not get the money before my training period then it will come of no use. So, I need the money from October onwards this year. World Championship is scheduled from 28th September to 6th October. My plan is to start training and participating in competitions after the World Championship. If I do not get the money before that time it will be a total waste.” So, the 23-year old sprinter has submitted her budget to the state government around a month ago. She has not yet received any response. Still, Dutee seems optimistic. “I am waiting for the completion of the forthcoming general election. I hope the money will be sanctioned after the formation of the government. The government promised me to bear all my training expenses after I brought two silver medals from Asian Games,” she clarifies. Dutee has qualified for participation in 200 meters in the Asian Track & Field (ATF) meet. The qualification time for 100 meters in ATF meet is 11.40 seconds while the sprinter’s current best timing in the event 11.45 seconds. So, Dutee will participate in 200 meters and in 4x100 meters relay meet in ATF. She can take part in 100 meters only if the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) considers her 0.5 seconds. Ramesh, however, said, “I believe Dutee can earn qualification for Olympics. But she needs to compete in competitive championships which take place all over Europe after the World Championship. In India, Dutee is not facing better sprinters than her. So training only in India will not help her reduce the timing.”
The qualification for the Olympics in 100 meters is 11.15 seconds. And the qualification time for 200 meters in the Olympics has been 22.80 seconds. Dutee’s best timing in 100 meters is 11.45 seconds and 23.00 seconds in 200 meters.