Tamil Nadu's Dhanalakshmi made a seismic breakthrough at the Federation Cup after beating the top 100m women's sprinter Dutee Chand to take home the elusive gold.
The 23-year-old turned in another commanding performance by clocking 23.26s in the women's 200m semifinal heats. She outpowered world junior champion Hima Das, who finished second with a timing of 24.39s.
By smashing PT Usha's 23-year-old women's 200m meet record, Dhanalakshmi is on the right path to athletic stardom. She is in prime position to rack up major titles and elevate herself to one of the best on the roster.
Dhanalakshmi: Overcoming adversity
Hailing from the village of Gundur near Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu, Dhanalakshmi has taken long strides to make her mark on the domestic circuit.
Already struggling to make ends meet, she lost her father at a young age. Her mother worked as a domestic help to sustain her family of four.
However, Dhanalakshmi returned to pick things up again, and her tenacity helped her overcome all the challenges in her way.
Her introduction to the sport
Impressed by her raw speed, her current coach Manikandan Arumugam egged her on to take up athletics. Her rigorous practice eventually yielded significant results at several major domestic tournaments.
Sprinting to success
Dhanalakshmi gave an exhibition of her immense talent by finishing third in both 100m and 200m at the 2018 Tamil Nadu State Championships.
Dhanalakshmi extended her sensational campaign by defeating erstwhile National 100m champion A. Chandralekha in a university meet in the same year.
She bagged top honors in her first overseas meet in the women's 200m event at Pezenas in France. Her emergence as a future star in track and field couldn’t have been better timed, as this was a huge new venue to showcase her talents to the world.
Dhanalakshmi once again proved her mettle when she clinched a bronze medal at the 2019 Inter-State Championships. She was part of Tamil Nadu's 4x100m relay gold medal-winning team.
She began her campaign this year with back-to-back titles in the 100m and 200m events at the Tamil Nadu state meet in January.
The 23-year-old sprinter shot to fame after breaking legendary sprinter P T Usha's 200m meet record at the Federation Cup. Usha had set the meet record with a timing of 23.30s at the Federation Cup in 1998, which remained unbroken for 23 years.
Dhanalakshmi's 11.39s in the 100m race at the Federation Cup was the fastest time clocked by an Indian woman in national meets since Dutee Chand.